Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science


Patient Safety


Mark Archambault



Purpose A handoff is a transfer and acceptance of patient care responsibility achieved through effective communication to another or from one team to another for the purpose of ensuring the continuity and safety of patient care. In 2006, the Joint Commission made handoff communications and National Patient Safety Goal. There is no current research of physician assistants (PA) involved in handoff communication. This paper describes a pilot activity utilizing PA and medical students doing handovers and proposes a handover PA curriculum improvement.

Methods PA and medical students were selected to participate in a program called “transition to clerkship” handover training. Their task was to use the SBAR method of information transfer in handing off a patient to another care team.

Results Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of ten questions by the PA team focus group indicated that they liked the activity, enjoyed the collaboration with the medical students and felt that their participation was valued. Their confidence level in doing handoffs also increased.

Conclusion In order to be on par with medical students, residents and nurses who are becoming formally trained in handoffs, PA programs should implement a formal curriculum to improve this skill.


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