Woman meeting with doctor

Approximately 80 percent of serious medical errors involve miscommunication during the transfer of care from one healthcare provider to another, according to the Joint Commission.[1]

A recent article in Medscape articulates how hospitalist physicians can improve patient care and increase efficiency by working to improve handoff communication.

According to the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS), a ‘hospitalist‘ is a physician who must master the specific skill set and knowledge required to treat and care for patients in the hospital.

At times, important information is inadvertently omitted; a 2011 study published in Minnesota Medicine[2] found that 69 percent of patient hand-offs between internal medicine residents were missing medication information and 22 percent lacked complete patient problem lists. The transfer of inaccurate information during hand-offs is also problematic; the Minnesota study revealed that almost 6 percent of hand-offs included code status errors and nearly 3 percent involved medication allergy errors.[2]

The article lists five strategies to build better handoffs:

  1. Standardize
  2. Chunk Information
  3. Carve out a dedicated time and space
  4. Used closed-loop communications
  5. Schedule for continuity

Access the Medscape article for the definitions and suggestions for implementation of each strategy listed above.

Great Plains QIN is partnering with communities throughout the region to unite stakeholders, consumers and healthcare providers to improve communication and care coordination – resulting in reduced hospital admissions, readmissions and medication harm. For more information, visit our Web site.


  1. Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare releases targeted solutions tool for hand-off communications. Jt Comm Perspect. 2012;32:1,3. Source Accessed January 2, 2019
  2. Aylward MJ, Rogers T, Duane PG. Inaccuracy in patient handoffs: discrepancies between resident-generated reports and the medical record. Minn Med. 2011;94:38-41