The handover of large numbers of medical patients, during on call periods when staffing levels are reduced, is a challenge for all acute medical services. At the Royal Cornwall Hospital, a large district general hospital, we identified that foundation doctors were reviewing medical inpatients during weekend on call periods with limited written handover information. We chose to address this problem by developing an intervention, a weekend handover sticker, and piloting it. We used the review of documentation to measure improvement and feedback from users to assess the processes involved. Use of the weekend handover form improved the written communication between weekday and weekend teams.
The number of weekend plans documented in the notes increased from 15% to 84%and the provision of a patient summary within the last 7 days increased from 26% to 94%. The feedback from users confirmed it was a useful intervention and 100% (15/15) of doctors and nurses responded positively to the question “Do you think the weekend sticker should be introduced and used at the weekend for all medical patients?”
The feedback also identified concerns regarding additional workload for weekday ward staff and this has led to ongoing work to try and ensure that the weekend handover form continues to be used effectively to maintain an improved level of written handover information for on call staff. While we have not included a direct measure of patient care, we hope that by improving the quality of written handover information we are acting to ensure patient information is shared effectively, with likely positive impact on patient care.
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