Case Management

Sneak Peek: Mastering the handoff: Tips to avoid dropping the ball

Case Management Weekly, April 11, 2012

One of the riskiest times for a patient comes when they are leaving the hospital and heading home or to aftercare. This is the time when medications are mixed up, follow-up doctors’ appointments are missed, or discharge instructions get lost in the fax machine. Poor hand-offs with poor communication can lead to unnecessary readmissions.

To avoid these problems, put processes in place to enhance communication and reduce opportunities for human error. Below are some tips to help get your organization on the right track:

  • Standardize your transfer form. One of the main problems related to transfers is that not everybody offers the same information at the point of transfer. This means one facility may not send information that another facility needs. “There are many different transfer forms; everybody uses something different,” says Loretta Olsen, RN, MSN, director of case management at Mercy Medical Center North Iowa in Mason City. Having a standardized form for all the facilities in your area can go a long way toward ironing out communication flaws.
  • Remind staff to complete the transfer process. Often, staff members filling out transfer forms will forget to provide information that turns out to be critical for the receiving facility, says Olsen. Remind staff members to ensure their documents are complete before sending them.

This article is adapted from an article which originally appeared in the April Case Management Monthly published by HCPro, Inc.

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