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Implementation of several strategies to improve handoffs of hospitalized patients was associated with significant reductions in medical errors and preventable adverse events, according to a prospective study of 1,255 patient admissions at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires residency programs to provide training on handoffs to improve patient safety. Many institutions, however, do not have high-quality programs.

Strategies to improve the handoff process include communication training, using mnemonics to standardize handoffs, minimizing interruptions, including all team members in handoff meetings and using written or computerized tools.

The authors of this study implemented a handoff process that included a two-hour communication training session with discussion on best practices for verbal and written handoffs; use of the mnemonic “SIGNOUT?” (; inclusion of both senior residents and interns during verbal handoffs (instead...

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