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Improving the communication between teams managing boarded patients on a surgical specialty ward
  1. Shobitha Puvaneswaralingam,
  2. Daniella Ross
  1. NHS Tayside, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Shobitha Puvaneswaralingam spuvaneswaralingam{at}


Transferring patients from the ward of their specialty or consultant is described as boarding. 1 Boarding patients is becoming increasingly prevalent due to greater pressure on hospital capacity. This practice compromises patient safety through delayed investigations, prolonged hospital stays, and increased risk of hospital-acquired infections. 1 ,2 We evaluated how regularly boarded patients were reviewed, and how effectively information regarding their management was communicated from their primary specialty to ward staff. We aimed to improve the frequency of patient reviews by ensuring that each patient was reviewed every weekday and increase communication between primary specialty, and medical and nursing teams by 20% from baseline during the data collection period.

The project was based in the Otolaryngology ward in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, where there was a high prevalence of boarded patients. Baseline data showed a clear deficit in communication between the primary specialty and ward staff with only 31% of patient reviews being communicated to ward doctors. We designed and implemented a communication tool, in the form of a sticker, to be inserted into patients' medical notes for use by the primary specialty.

Implementation of the sticker improved communication between teams as stickers were completed in 93% of instances. In 88% of patient reviews, the junior doctor was informed of the management plan, showing a large increase from baseline. Through PDSA cycles, we aimed to increase the sustainability and reliability of the sticker; however, we faced challenges with sustainability of sticker insertion. We aim to engage more stakeholders to raise awareness of the problem, brainstorm solutions together, and review the production and implementation of stickers with senior hospital management to discuss the potential use of this tool within practice. There is potentially a large scope for utilisation of this communication tool on a local level, which we hope will significantly improve patient safety.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See:

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