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Changes in written sign-out composition across hospitalization.

Miller DM, Schapira MM, Visotcky AM, Laud P, Arora VM, Kordus A, Whittle J, Singh S, Fletcher KE. Changes in written sign-out composition across hospitalization. Journal of hospital medicine. 2015 Aug 1; 10(8):534-6.

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BACKGROUND: Inaccurate or incomplete information in the written portion of the patient handoff, or sign-out, may be associated with adverse events in hospitalized patients. Little is known about what information providers actually include in written sign-out documents and how sign-outs change over time. OBJECTIVES: (1) Provide a descriptive analysis of initial and subsequent hospital day-written sign-out content, and (2) evaluate the relationship between team workload and sign-out composition. DESIGN: Retrospective review of sign-out documents from a larger observational study of general medicine patients admitted to housestaff and hospitalist teams at 3 hospitals. MAIN MEASURES: The presence of 13 components of a high-quality sign-out. We performed descriptive analyses and compared initial and subsequent day sign-outs for content. KEY RESULTS: We reviewed 200 patient hospitalizations (200 initial handoffs, 580 subsequent day handoffs). Initial sign-out entries contained a mean of 7.54 (standard deviation: 2.27) key sign-out components. Subsequent day sign-outs contained a higher percentage of certain key elements but had more vague language. The number of elements present in the sign-out was reduced as patient census increased (r? = -0.295, P? < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Sign-out composition changes over time, and is associated with workload. Future interventions to improve quality should take these factors into consideration.

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