Optimizing the Patient Handoff Between Emergency Medical Services and the Emergency Department

In Annals of Internal Medicine, LDI's Zachary Meisel and colleagues examine patient handoffs from emergency medical services (EMS) to hospital emergency departments to learn more about what can be done to improve the structure and process of these high-risk events. The authors conducted focus group interviews with EMS providers around the country to learn more about their perspectives on the professional and interpersonal factors that contribute to the effectiveness of handoffs. EMS providers identified four potential ways of improving the handoff system: communicating directly with the patient's ED provider upon arrival, increasing interdisciplinary feedback and transparency between hospital-based providers and EMS providers, standardizing some aspects of the handoff, and utilizing technology to promote better exchange of information. The study’s findings suggest that these reforms could help to reduce the risk of medical error in patient transitions.