Handoffs represent a critical transition point in patient care that play a key role in patient safety. Our quality improvement project was a descriptive observational study aimed at standardizing pediatric hospitalist handoffs via implementation of a handoff checklist, with the goal of improving handoff quality and physician satisfaction within six months. The handoff checklist was quickly adapted by hospitalists, with median compliance rate of 83% during the study. Handoff quality was assessed by trained observers using the validated Handoff Clinical Evaluation Exercise (CEX) tool at multiple time periods pre- and post-implementation (at 2, 6, 12, and 24 months). Handoff quality improved during our study, with a significant decrease in the percentage of "unsatisfactory" handoffs from 9% to 0% (p-value 0.004), an effect which was sustained after initial project completion. The cumulative time required for verbal handoffs for different attending physicians paralleled patient census. However, our project identified wasted down time between individual physician handoffs, and an intervention to change shift times led to a decrease in the average total handoff process time from 86 minutes to 60 minutes, p-value <0.001. An average of 7.4 patient care items was identified during handoffs. A physician perception survey revealed improved situational awareness, efficiency, patient safety, and physician satisfaction as a result of our handoff improvement project. In conclusion, implementation of a checklist and standardized handoff process for pediatric hospitalists improved handoff efficiency and quality, as well as physician satisfaction.
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