Introduction of a Microsoft Excel-based unified electronic weekend handover document in Acute and General Medicine in a DGH: aims, outcomes and challenges
- Correspondence to Pablo Kostelec
- Received 9 October 2016
- Revision requested 21 November 2016
- Revised 23 February 2017
- Published 16 March 2017
On-call weekends in medicine can be a busy and stressful time for junior doctors, as they are responsible for a larger pool of patients, most of whom they would have never met.
Clinical handover to the weekend team is extremely important and any communication errors may have a profound impact on patient care, potentially even resulting in avoidable harm or death.
Several senior clinical bodies have issued guidelines on best practice in written and verbal handover. These include: standardisation, use of pro forma documents prompting doctors to document vital information (such as ceiling of care/resuscitation status) and prioritisation according to clinical urgency.
These guidelines were not consistently followed in our hospital site at the onset of 2014 and junior doctors were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the handover processes.
An initial audit of handover documents used across the medical division on two separate weekends in January 2014, revealed high variability in compliance with documentation of key information. For example, ceiling of care was documented for only 14-42% of patients and resuscitation status in 26-72% of patients respectively. Additionally, each ward used their own self-designed pro forma and patients were not prioritised by clinical urgency.
Within six months from the introduction of a standardised, hospital-wide weekend handover pro forma across the medical division and following initial improvements to its layout, ceiling of therapy and resuscitation status were documented in approximately 80% of patients (with some minor variability). Moreover, 100% of patients in acute medicine and 75% of those in general medicine were prioritised by clinical urgency and all wards used the same handover pro forma.
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