Why You Should Involve Patients in Nursing Handoffs

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, December 3, 2013

A new study finds a patient safety measure that nurses and patients alike agree improves care: Involving patients in the handoff process when nurses change shifts.

Now more than ever, hospitals are working to find that elusive crossroad where patient safety and satisfaction meet to produce healthier, happier, and more engaged patients. But despite the money and energy spent on planning and launching new patient safety measures, there's often skepticism from the nurses who are tasked with actually carrying out such programs. A study earlier this year from the American Nurses Association and GE Healthcare, for instance, found that not much more than half of nurses (57%) believe that the patient safety programs in their hospital are effective.

But there is one patient safety measure that nurses and patients agree improves care: Involving patients in the handoff process when nurses change shifts, instead of nurses conducting handoffs at the nurses' station.

In fact, Fran Damian, MS, RN, NEA-BC, the ED nursing director at Boston Children's Hospital, credits doing handoffs in the patient rooms as one of the key measures that helped the hospital's ED win one of the Emergency Nurses Association's Lantern Awards.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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