Nursing Handoff Decrease Errors and Improve Communication

The Problem

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Communication among nurses is one of the critical determinants of quality care to patients. Therefore, the absence of effective communication or breakdown in the process causes significant errors that affect the success of care and patient satisfaction. Among the areas that suffer from a lack of proper communication between nurses is during the change of shifts and handover (Halm, 2013). Due to the inadequate movement of information during the process, a breakdown in the continuity of care may occur, which might negatively affect the work for the incoming nurse and safety of care provided to patients.

The Setting or Context in which the Problem Occurs

The problem transpires in healthcare facilities where nurses are expected to provide care to patients. Mostly, issues with communication during shift change and handover occur in inpatient settings where nurses provide care to hospitalized patients. Whenever a nurse completes a shift, another care provider should continue with the services seamlessly from where the colleague left (Bulau, 2013). Therefore, effective handover and communication between the outgoing and incoming nurse are critical aspects to avoid any breakdown in the continuum of care.

Description of the Problem

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The issues of shift changes and handoffs are common in health care settings, especially in inpatient care. Several factors can affect handoff communication and complicate the care process, including increased specialty referrals, which increase the number of caregivers and the high rate of handovers that cause a heightened potential of erring (McKechnie, 2015; Wheeler, 2015). Frequent changes in personnel and the level of care could affect the flow of information during the shift of responsibility from one nurse to the next. Besides, regulations, such as work-hour limit could result in a “shift-work mentality” culture that negatively affects handover, accountability, and continuity. Individual differences and conflicts could also cause communication difficulties (Drach-Zahavy, Godlblatt, & Maizel, 2015). It is imperative to understand these factors and fully comprehend the problem and implement effective solutions.

Impact of the problem

Communication problems resulting from poor shift changes and handoff could have adverse effects on the work environment, the quality of care provided by staff, and patient outcomes. Such problems are likely to cause conflicts in the workplace, further aggravating the problem and creating a cycle of communication challenges. The issues affect the quality of care provided to patients because of the potential of erring, which affects the continuity of care (Drach-Zahavy & Hadid, 2015). Such an environment influences care outcomes and the level of patient satisfaction.

Significance of the Problem

Communication problems resulting from poor shift changes and handoff have serious health consequences. The problem endangers the health and safety of patients receiving care in a hospital setting. Therefore, it has significant implications for nurses who provide direct care to patients (Chapman, 2016). Understanding the problem and its adverse effects is critical for health care providers, including nurses, to support policies and programs targeted to solve it, such as creating effective handoff tools to reduce the level of erring and improve communication.

Proposed Solution to the Identified Project Topic

The significance of the problem in health care necessitates effective intervention to safeguard individuals and communities from the negative effects. The proposed intervention includes nursing handoff tools to reduce errors and improve communication between healthcare providers (Vawdrey, Stein, Fred, Bostwick, & Stetson, 2013). For instance, a computerized tool involves effective recording of information regarding the patient that can be transferred to another nurse or any other care provider. Hence, such a mechanism would reduce errors and enhance communication in the continuum of care.

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