8 tips for high-quality hand-offs from The Joint Commission

Proper communication between healthcare providers is crucial for effective patient hand-offs.

Here are 8 tips to ensure high-quality handoffs, according to an infographic from The Joint Commission.

1. Determine critical information that must be communicated face-to-face and in writing.

  1. Standardize the tools and methods used to communicate with receivers, including forms, checklists, protocols and patient summaries.

  1. Don't rely on electronic or paper communications for hand-offs. If face-to-face communication is not possible, clinicians should discuss the hand-off by phone or video conference.

  1. If patient information is coming from various sources, combine the materials and communicate the information to the receiver all at once.

  2. Provide the following information to the receiver:

  • Sender contact information
  • An assessment of illness assessment, including severity
  • A summary of events including occurrences leading up to the patient's illness or admission, hospital course through discharge, an ongoing assessment and a plan of care
  • To-do action list
  • Contingency plans
  • Allergy list
  • Code status
  • Medication list
  • Dated laboratory tests
  • Dated vital signs
  1. Conduct the hand-off or sign-out through a face-to-face interaction in a designated location free from interruptions.

  1. Involve all team members during the hand-off, including the patient and family, if appropriate.

  1. Use EHR records, patient portals, medical apps and telehealth services to enhance the hand-off process.

For more information on improving hand-offs from The Joint Commission, click here.

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