Creation of a Hospital Medicine Service Handover Tool

Dr. Meg Zofutto
April 24, 2017

For hospitalists, communication about patient care needs is a crucial part of the job.  Hospitalists coordinate complex care among all inpatient providers, including nurses, case managers, and social workers.  It is very important to us that details regarding a patient's diagnosis and care plan while hospitalized are clear to the patient  as well as these other providers.  Therefore, hospitalists want to focus on these critical details to avoid information being lost when hospitalists transition patient care to another physician. 

In the Fall of 2015, the Section of Hospital Medicine at Vanderbilt used ideas from both medical literature and practicing physicians to create a ' Service Handover Tool'.  This tool is a checklist focused on the care of hospitalized patients, used to communicate important patient information across the interprovider transition.  Our hope is that this checklist makes patient care more efficient, safe, and transparent.  

In the Fall of 2016, we surveyed our hospital medicine physicians.  We found that the majority of physicians agreed that the Service Handover Tool was an effective communication tool, increased confidence when caring for patients, improved communication with consulting physicians and case management, and facilitated discharge planning.  We continue to use this tool universally in the Vanderbilt Section of Hospital Medicine to provide outstanding patient care.