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Safe handovers for every patient: an interrupted time series analysis to test the effect of a structured discharge bundle in Dutch hospitals

05 Jun 2019

Objective

Patient handovers are often delayed, patients are hardly involved in their discharge process and hospital-wide standardised discharge procedures are lacking. The aim of this study was to implement a structured discharge bundle and to test the effect on timeliness of medical and nursing handovers, length of hospital stay (LOS) and unplanned readmissions.

Design

Interrupted time series with six preintervention and six postintervention data collection points (September 2015 to June 2017).

Setting

Internal medicine and surgical wards

Participants

Patients (≥18 years) admitted for more than 48 hours to surgical or internal medicine wards.

Intervention

The Transfer Intervention Procedure (TIP), containing four elements: planning the discharge date within 48 hours postadmission; arrangements for postdischarge care; preparing handovers and personalised patient discharge letter; and a discharge conversation 12–24 hours before discharge.

Outcome measures

The number of medical and nursing handovers sent within 24 hours. Secondary outcomes were median time between discharge and medical handovers, LOS and unplanned readmissions.

Results

Preintervention 1039 and postintervention 1052 patient records were reviewed. No significant change was observed in the number of medical and nursing handovers sent within 24 hours. The median (IQR) time between discharge and medical handovers decreased from 6.15 (0.96–15.96) to 4.08 (0.33–13.67) days, but no significant difference was found. No intervention effect was observed for LOS and readmission. In subgroup analyses, a reduction of 5.6 days in the median time between discharge and medical handovers was observed in hospitals with high protocol adherence and much attention for implementation.

Conclusion

Implementation of a structured discharge bundle did not lead to improved timeliness of patient handovers. However, large interhospital variation was observed and an intervention effect on the median time between discharge and medical handovers was seen in hospitals with high protocol adherence. Future interventions should continue to create awareness of the importance of timely handovers.

Trial registration number

NTR5951; Results.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open