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I-PASS: Standardizing patient "handoffs" to reduce medical errors

Sunday, April 29, 2012 12:01 AM

Boston Children's Hospital releases a medical education curriculum for transitioning care

BOSTON, April 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new patient safety and medical education initiative, standardizing and improving how patient care is "handed off" during hospital shift changes, can reduce medical errors by as much as 40 percent, report physicians at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Boston. The initiative, called I-PASS, was developed at Boston Children's Hospital and is currently being implemented and tested in 10 pediatric training programs across North America, including the residency training program at Boston Children's.

A pilot study, led by Amy Starmer, MD, MPH, of the Division of General Pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital, developed and tested a novel set of patient handoff procedures that served as the foundation for I-PASS, and was the first to test such measures on a large scale. Findings of the study, and details on the development of I-PASS, were presented today in a plenary session by I-PASS principal investigator Christopher P. Landrigan, MD, MPH, Research and Fellowship Director of the Inpatient Pediatrics Service at Boston Children's Hospital, and Theodore Sectish, MD, Program Director of the hospital's pediatric residency program.  

The I-PASS curriculum, which will now be shared nationally and internationally, seeks to improve communication during residents' shift changes, ensuring that incoming doctors are thoroughly and accurately briefed on each patient's medical history, status and treatment plan. National data suggest that up to 70 percent of sentinel events – the most serious errors in hospitals – stem at least in part from miscommunications, including those during handoffs.

"Despite many efforts, medical errors continue to be very common worldwide, and frequently cause harm to patients," says Landrigan. "Reducing handoff errors is a highly promising strategy for improving patient safety. We hope that I-PASS will improve the safety of care across pediatric and adult hospitals once it's widely disseminated."

Developed in collaboration with educators, hospitalists and health services researchers across the U.S.


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