Communication between healthcare professionals is a key aspect in patient safety especially when dealing with patients with musculoskeletal trauma. The change of junior doctors’ working patterns within the last decade and a multidisciplinary approach has resulted in more healthcare professionals being involved in any one patient’s care. A robust handover and communication tool is essential in ensuring patients’ safety and to allow efficient service coordination. We compared the use of a simple traditional template-based handover system with an electronic interactive database developed using Microsoft Excel specifically designed as a handover tool and to coordinate acute trauma referrals to the orthopaedic department in our hospital. We compared the adequacy and accessibility of patient details and clinical information as well as assessing these systems as tools to facilitate coordination of patients with trauma. Data from both handover systems were collected prospectively over the period of 12 weeks and analysed for the degree of missing information based on the General Medical Council and British Medical Association guidelines for safe handover. A questionnaire was also handed to members of the multidisciplinary team to assess their impression of each handover system on coordination and management of the trauma service. Our study showed a significant reduction in missing information in the electronic database handover system in multiple domains (p<0.001). Our survey of 29 healthcare professionals also showed a significant improvement in their perceived ability to manage acute trauma referrals, coordinate patients awaiting surgery and in accessing previous handover discussions (p<0.001).
- service improvement
- quality improvement
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Contributors NIB planned the study. NIB and MW collected data. NIB, MW and RS conducted the survey. This article was written up by NIB and MW, edited by RS and MT.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.