Introduction Miscommunication during patient handoff contributes to an estimated 80% of serious medical errors and, consequently, plays a key role in the estimated five million excess deaths annually from poor quality of care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Objective The objective of this study was to assess signout communication during patient handoffs between prehospital personnel and hospital staff. Methods This is a cross-sectional study, with a convenience sample of 931 interfacility transfers for pregnant women across four states from November 7 to December 13, 2016. A complete signout, as defined for this study, contains all necessary signout elements for patient care exchanged verbally or in written form between an emergency medical technician (EMT) and a physician or nurse. Results Enrollment of 786 cases from 931 interfacility transfers resulted in 1572 opportunities for signout. EMTs and a physician or nurse signed out in 1549 cases (98.5%). Signout contained all elements in 135 cases (8.6%). The mean percentage of signout elements included was 45.2% (95% CI, 43.9-46.6). Physician involvement was correlated with a higher mean percent (63.4% [95% CI, 62-64.8]) compared to nurse involvement (23.6% [95% CI, 22.5-24.8]). With respect to the frequency of signout communication, 63.1% of EMTs reported often or always giving signout, and 60.5% reported often or always giving signout; they reported feeling moderately to very comfortable with signout (73.7%) and 34.1% requested further training. Conclusions Physicians, nurses, and the EMTs conducted signout 99% of the time but often fell short of including all elements required for optimal patient care. Interventions aimed at improving the quality of patient care must include strengthening signout communication.
View details for DOI 10.7759/cureus.7114
View details for PubMedID 32140371
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7047340