Web-based handoff tool and education may reduce medical errors — 7 insights

Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers found providers can lower medical error rates if they utilize a web-based handoff tool in combination with a training workshop, according to Medscape.

In the study, researchers analyzed the hospital's patients who had general medicine and general surgery services during a single period nearly four months prior to implementing the tool and four months following implementation.

The three periods researchers analyzed included the:
1.    Pre-implementation
2.    Post-implementation
3.    Post-implementation matched to pre-implementation by time of year (to account for potential effects of resident experience.)

Here are seven insights:

1. Before the intervention, researchers noted 77 medical errors among 5,407 patients.

2. That figure fell to 45 medical errors four months after the implementation.  

3. Per 100 patient days, the hospital had 3.56 medical errors during the pre-implementation period, with that number hitting 1.76 medical errors during post-implementation period.

4. Researchers also found the medical error rate to be 0.93 medical errors per 100 patient days during the third period.

5. After implementing the web-based tool and workshop, researchers noted errors from communication failures dropped. Prior to implementation, the error rate was 2.88 errors per 100 patient days, with this number falling to 1.15 errors per 100-patient days during the second period.   

6. Errors in handoffs fell from 2.47 errors per 100 patient days during the pre-implementation period to 0.95 errors per 100 patient days during the post-implementation period.

7. This fell to 0.56 errors per 100 patient days during the third period.

"In addition, we saw a stepwise reduction in rates of errors on general medicine services, suggesting that regionalization between periods two and three had an additive or synergistic effect, supported by the fact that this reduction was not replicated on surgical services," the researchers wrote.

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