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Joshua Denson

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Study details lethal dangers in monthly handoffs


New research presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2016 conference found that the risk of patient death significantly increases when medical residents leave their monthly clinical rotations and turn their patients’ care over to other residents. That does seem common-sensical.

FierceHealthcare noted, in summarizing data from the study:

“Previous research has focused on adverse outcomes associated with patient handoffs at the end of daily shift changes at hospitals. But until now, few studies have looked at the more permanent handoffs that occur each month at academic hospitals, where residents train by moving through a series of clinical assignments.”

“Most hospitals have guidelines for the handoffs that occur on a daily basis, and usually those handoffs include a face-to-face discussion between doctors about what will happen to the patient during the next shift,” said lead author Joshua Denson, M.D., a fellow in pulmonary- and critical-care medicine at the University of Colorado, in a study announcement. “But few have guidelines for this monthly handoff, in which a resident turns over for good the care of 10 to 20 patients, often in an email or telephone conversation.”

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