A scoping review of clinical handover mnemonic devices

Link to article at PubMed

Int J Qual Health Care. 2023 Aug 24:mzad065. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzad065. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Since the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System in 1999 [1], clinical handovers (or handoffs) and their relationship with the communication of patient safety have raised concerns from the public, regulatory bodies and medical practitioners [2, 3]. Protocols, guidelines, forms and mnemonic devices have been created to ensure safer clinical handovers. An initial literature search did not find a framework to describe the clinical processes and functions of each mnemonic device and its elements. The absence of a systematic framework could hinder the study across and the reusability of the established clinical handover mnemonic devices. This study aims to develop a universal framework to describe the clinical processes and functions essential to patient safety during handover.

METHODS: We queried PubMed.gov and obtained 98 articles related to clinical handovers. We examined the citing sources of the mnemonics mentioned in these articles. A total of 42 handover mnemonics with 238 elements were identified. Our review noted that there was no taxonomy to describe the clinical functions and process associated with the clinical handover mnemonic devices. We used grounded theory to address this gap and built a new taxonomy from the 42 mnemonics. A researcher read all mnemonics, developed a taxonomy for tagging clinical handover mnemonics and categorised all mnemonic elements into correct processes and functions. After that, the second researcher, a medical practitioner, examined the taxonomy and made suggested corrections for the labelled functions of all mnemonic elements. Both researchers agreed on the taxonomy and the labelled processes and functions of different mnemonic elements.

RESULTS: The taxonomy contains three processes and twenty functions in clinical handovers. Clinical processes like medical condition, medical history, medical evaluation, care plan, outstanding care/tasks/results, and patient information, as an administrative process, were widely adopted in clinical handover mnemonics. Moreover, mnemonic elements on communication manner and information validation had been identified in the list of clinical handover mnemonics.

CONCLUSION: Although we recognise challenges because of both the vast number of clinical handover scenarios and the task of placing them under a few predefined groups, our findings suggest that such a taxonomy, as developed for this study, could assist medical practitioners to devise a clinical handover mnemonic to best fit their workplace.

PMID:37616494 | DOI:10.1093/intqhc/mzad065

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