What is Handoff?

  • “Handoff” refers to the process of transferring the responsibility of patient care from one care provider to another. It is a real-time process of transferring specific information to ensure continuity of care. This important step ensures that pertinent information is discussed between team members.
  • At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we have taken many strides to standardize and improve our handoff process. This ensures that all team members understand the process and encourages active participation. We have taken a closer look at our handoff process and implemented several tools to promote effective communication.

When does it occur?

  • Handoff occurs at several intervals throughout a patient’s journey. It begins during admission and ends when the patient is discharged. Handoffs are conducted when there is a change in the level of care, temporary transfer of care, change in the provider or specialty service, and discharge.

Here are some of the tools that we use to ensure thorough communication during handoff:

  The Critical Care to OR Handoff Checklist (PDF) is used during the transfer of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patient to the Operating Room. It is used by nurses, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and respiratory care therapists. This process is performed before, during, and after surgery. All healthcare providers who participate in sending and/or accepting responsibility for a patient are given an opportunity to ask questions and provide information. This tool ensures that each member of the team can understand the patient’s current assessment, history, and plan of care.
  The 20 Second Shout-out (PDF) is used by our critical care transport team when they arrive in our Emergency Department and/or one of our Critical Care Units with a pediatric or neonatal patient.
  The ED to Acute Care (PDF) lists elements that are discussed between sending and receiving nurses prior to patient transfer from the Emergency Department to one of the inpatient acute care units. An electronic version of this tool is viewed in the electronic medical record and displays the most up to date information at the point of conversation.
  The 7B to IR Handoff Checklist (PDF) is used during the transfer of a patient to our Interventional Radiology Department for a procedure. It is used by the inpatient nursing staff to review patient information with the nurse and anesthesiologists that will be managing the patient during the procedure.