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January 9, 2018

Handovers During Anesthesia Care: Patient Safety Risk or Opportunity for Improvement?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 2Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Patient Safety, Ann Arbor, Michigan
JAMA. 2018;319(2):125-127. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.20602

Optimal patient care and clinical outcomes depend not only on technical knowledge and skill but, even more importantly, on ready access to critical information on which to base patient care decisions. Access to needed information at the appropriate time is a crucial form of communication. Numerous studies have shown that inadequate communication is the leading cause of harm to patients. It is estimated that the majority of serious adverse events in health care involve miscommunication during the handoff between physicians and perhaps between other health care practitioners.1,2 Contributing factors to inadequate communication during handoffs include insufficient or misleading information, absence of safety culture, ineffective communication methods, lack of time, poor timing, inadequate feedback between sender and receiver, interruptions or distractions, lack of standardized procedures, and insufficient staffing.3