Quality & Patient Safety

Hospital uses electronic medical record to improve handoff process

Patient Safety Monitor, April 1, 2009

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Staff members at Abington (PA) Memorial Hospital (AMH) knew their handoff process could use some work. Their process, like that of many other hospitals, used a paper form to communicate important patient information from one provider of care to the next. However, the form would often be filled out improperly, labels would be missing, and ultimately, the receiver might not be aware of everything he or she needed to know about a patient, putting the patient at risk for an error in care. The hospital also needed to stay in compliance with National Patient Safety Goal 02.05.01, concerning handoff communication. Additionally, nurses often had to double-document information on the handoffs that was already captured in the electronic medical record (EMR). AMH had implemented computer physician order entry and clinical documentation by September 2007 and decided to utilize the EMR to enhance its handoff process. At the time, the hospital also used another system that pulled information from the EMR to provide patients with a daily care report. ?We thought maybe we could use that type of technology?that report writing?to get better, more accurate information in a simple way to ancillary staff,? says Diane Humbrecht, MSN, RN, C, nurse director of informatics at AMH.

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