Letter to the Editor  |   May 2013
Speaking Up About Intraoperative Handoffs
Article Information
Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor   |   May 2013
Speaking Up About Intraoperative Handoffs
ASA Monitor 05 2013, Vol.77, 73.
ASA Monitor 05 2013, Vol.77, 73.
We read, with great interest, the article “Best Practices for Handover Communication” by Dr. Singh-Radcliff in the March 2013 ASA NEWSLETTER. Handovers, or “handoffs,” are indeed an important yet frequently overlooked component of patient safety, especially in the perioperative setting. As Dr. Singh-Radcliff notes, handoffs between anesthesia providers and the PACU team or ICU team are critical communication exchanges that should be formalized to maximize completeness. There is, however, another perioperative handoff scenario that occurs very frequently but has drawn less attention. Specifically, we are referring to intraoperative handoffs between anesthesia providers during transitions such as shift changes.
There is very little literature addressing the practice of changing anesthesia personnel during surgery. An early study by Cooper et al.1  suggested that errors potentially leading to critical incidents could either be caused or prevented by a change in anesthesia providers. Other studies surveyed anesthesia providers and concluded that there was dissatisfaction with current handoff procedures, and there were suggestions that they should be formalized and documented.2,3 
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