Study finds handoffs can affect a patient’s recovery

NEW YORK A study has found that handing a patient in a hospital from one medical or surgical resident to another can harm patients.

“Our findings suggest that patient harm from problematic handoffs is common,” lead study author Dr. Barry Kitch of the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Policy and Harvard Medical School said in a statement, using the term of the practice. “In fact, problematic handoffs may be as significant a source of serious patient harm as are medication-related events.”

The study, published in the October issue of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, was based on an anonymous survey of 161 residents at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2006. It found that more than half of the residents reported harm to patients resulting from handoffs, while 12 percent reported serious harm to patients, including disability and death.

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