Patient handoff protocols are usually beneficial, but can result in increased transition time

A new meta-analysis in Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, examined the factors that make a patient handoff protocol successful.

Researchers investigated thousands of published reports to identify a small set of field studies. They analyzed 30,000 participants over 100,000 measured data points.

The meta-analysis found protocols that include 12 or more pieces of information — such as allergies, chief complaint, current medications and so on — resulted in providers passing on more details during shift changes.

The researchers concluded that the meta-analysis "provides good evidence for the general benefit of using handoff protocols, regardless of setting or protocol type." However, the researchers also found evidence that implementing handoff protocols can sometimes increase the transition time between caregivers as well as possibly result in providers omitting information.

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