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Describe the value and limitations of patient handoffs

Learner Task: After completing your brief literature search, the nurse calls and says the patient just returned from ultrasound is having increased abdominal pain. Her vital signs are now: BP 80/60, P 125, afebrile, RR 24. The student re-evaluates the patient who now has rebound and guarding on abdominal exam. The student calls the chief resident to give sign-out of the patient. Describe the value and limitations of patient handoffs.


Educator Checklist: Values and Limitations of Patient Handoffs
Mark the appropriate column to indicate whether the learner included each element in his or her response. When completed, tally the “Included” column to calculate the learner’s score.


Handoff Value Included =1 Not included =0
Team-approach to care
Takes advantage of hierarchal knowledge and experience of upper level residents/faculty
Allows for clarification of medical issues
Accurate and timely transition of patient care information
Handoff Limitations Included =1 Not included =0
Interferes with continuity of care
Doesn’t always prioritize highest acuity patients or care elements
Not all information may be appropriately communicated