Improving Communication Between ICU Nurses and Anesthesia Providers Using a Standardized Handoff Protocol

Academic Article


  • Purpose: This quality improvement (QI) project aimed to improve handoff communication between intensive care unit (ICU) nurses and anesthesia providers using a standardized preoperative handoff protocol for nonemergent and noncardiac procedures. Design: A quality improvement project. Methods: Following project approval, the project team provided staff education regarding a pre-populated handoff tool from the electronic medical record (EMR) adapted for perioperative use. In addition, the project team assessed the providers’ perception and satisfaction with handoff communication before and after the intervention. Findings: Of the 128 transfers, 76% completed the handoff tool during the 1-month implementation phase. CRNAs (n = 60), Registered Nurses (RNs; n = 88), and anesthesia residents (n = 30) completed the pre-and post-implementation surveys. Pre-implementation, 40% of providers were dissatisfied with communication, and only 14% reported dissatisfaction post-implementation. Also, 40% of providers believed this handoff protocol increased the amount of accurate information shared during reports without delaying the transition of care. Conclusions: The standardized handoff tool appears to improve information sharing during the transfer of care and improve provider satisfaction with the handoff process. Long term, it may reduce adverse patient events and improve outcomes. Use of a pre-populated handoff tool from the EMR provides a cost-effective solution to decrease erroneous reporting by removing human error associated with the recall.
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    Author List

  • Bell E; Benefield D; Vollenweider A; Wilson K; Warren LL; Aroke EN