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Standardized reporting process improves transition of patient care

Patient hand-offs are an intersection between healthcare providers where critical information is shared regarding the mutual patient

This is the final articles in the 2017 EMSFORWARD campaign. Read the article announcing the series or visit EMSFORWARD.org to access the full report and additional patient safety resources.

"Clearly defined processes for the contemporaneous face-to-face communication of key information from emergency medical services (EMS) providers to healthcare providers in an emergency department (ED) are critical to improving patient safety, reducing medico-legal risk and integrating EMS with the healthcare system."

— Transfer of Patient Care Between EMS Providers and Receiving Facilities Volume 63, no. 4: April 2014 Annals of Emergency Medicine 503


The ED staff now must track down the EMS crew for more information. (Courtesy photo)
The ED staff now must track down the EMS crew for more information. (Courtesy photo)

An EMS crew is transporting a geriatric patient with dementia to the hospital. They have called ahead with a patient report but it’s a busy night at the ED and most of the rooms are full. The hospital staff is doing the best they can but are now placing patients on beds in a hallway holding area.

The EMS crew waits but needs to return to service and tells the charge nurse they are over their allotted time for being at the hospital. They give the charge nurse a quick verbal report and tell her if there are questions she can read the report or call their supervisor. 

Later when the physician is seeing the patient there are questions regarding the patient's history, allergies, medications and the events leading up to the illness as septic shock is suspected. The electronic EMS chart is not available, nor is there a copy of the verbal report from EMS. The ED staff now must track down the EMS crew for more information.

Ask yourself: Has your organization implemented a standardized approach of communication for hand-offs?

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