Care Communication…Are your staff “handing off” effectively?

Care Communication…Are your staff “handing off” effectively?

Not only is care communication important, it is also a AAAHC requirement. Here are some thoughts you may want to consider to improve the process and communication at your facility.

 Are your PACU nurses only hearing about IV fluids?


I know it may sound silly, but when I worked in PACU, my anesthesia staff would report more about IV fluids than anything.

Unless it is the second fluid bag, I can pretty much figure out intake myself. No offense to those IV reporters, but maybe we can provide a bit of guidance. What I really needed to know was that the patient cried with the IV start, so I may want to approach pain management differently, or that both the husband and ex-husband are waiting in the lobby, so I may want to have a strategic approach to who comes to the bedside. (In case you are wondering-it has happened more than once. Not to mention the girlfriend/wife scenario!)

Here’s some tips on improving your facility’s processes in effective care communication:

Take a poll. What do your nurses and anesthesia staff really need? Allergies and procedure, sure, but what else? Specific past history? Pain tolerance? Caregiver information? By checking with the staff that cares for the patients, not only will you glean what everyone needs in communication, you will get buy in from those who communicate.

Standardize. Once you have a simple list of hand off items, make it the rule. Everybody is in a hurry to get to the next patient or point of care, but by taking just a minute to share consistent information, the new caregiver can be more effective and the patient is safer.

Use the process as a Quality Study (we always are looking for good ones, right?) and use the information to update the policy.

Three tasks done!

Policy updated…check

Quality Study Initiated…check

Improved process for safer care…check!

Make sure that as you educate everybody in the process to encourage the improved communication culture. Your patients will be safer, and your staff can be more effective in their care.

Author:  Leslie Mattson