Copyright ©The Author(s) 2016. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Surg Proced. Mar 28, 2016; 6(1): 8-12
Published online Mar 28, 2016. doi: 10.5412/wjsp.v6.i1.8
Patient handoffs in surgery: Successes, failures and room for improvement
David H Ballard, Navdeep S Samra, F Dean Griffen
David H Ballard, Navdeep S Samra, F Dean Griffen, Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, Shreveport, LA 71130, United States
Author contributions: All authors equally contributed to this paper with conception and design of the study, literature review and analysis, drafting and critical revision and editing, and final approval of the final version.
Conflict-of-interest statement: All authors claim no conflicts of interest or disclosures. This study has not been submitted or presented elsewhere.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: F Dean Griffen, MD, FACS, Professor, Chairman, Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, 1501 Kings Highway, Shreveport, LA 71130, United States.
Telephone: +1-318-6756126 Fax: +1-318-6756141
Received: September 28, 2015
Peer-review started: September 28, 2015
First decision: November 3, 2015
Revised: January 27, 2016
Accepted: March 14, 2016
Article in press: March 16, 2016
Published online: March 28, 2016

Patient handoffs are transitions where communication failures may lead to errors in patient care. Face-to-face handoffs are preferred, however may not always be feasible. Different models and strategies have been described, yet there are few experimental studies. Expanding the problem, the on-call surgeon may be responsible for many patients, few or none that they admitted. Effective handoffs improve the quality of care and result in fewer errors. Herein we review different models of patient handoffs, comment on common pitfalls, and suggest areas for new research.

Keywords: Patient handoff, Communication, Patient handover, Patient care, Face-to-face communication, Check out, Sign out

Core tip: Effective handoffs facilitate effective patient care. Distractions during handoffs cause errors in care, there are no outcomes data to recommend one type of handoff over another, and one type of handoff cannot satisfy all types of practice, even within the same institution.