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Manage the transitions and hand-offs

Written by: Bill Sherman on Sunday, 2 July 2006, 4:19 PM

In life and work, there are very few projects that we take from start to finish on our own. We constantly delegate, hand-off, or receive projects. What can we do to make these hand-offs more smooth between our colleagues and ourselves? A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (June 28, 2006) points to a new hand-off practice that some hospitals are implementing for shift changes.

In just a minute’s time, the nurses can give a clear summary and recommend a course of action. The process was adapted from nuclear submarine commanders handle their shift changes:

Situation–in just a few seconds communicate the 50,000 ft. overview

Background–give the listener enough background so that they understand the context of the problem

Assessment–provide an assessment of the situation

Recommendation–what do you feel should be done next?

Implementing this practice reduced the error rate from 89.9 to 39.6 per 1,000 patient days. Life is a baton-race, where we constantly make hand-offs. What can you do to make life easier (colleagues, partners, friends, and family) when you hand over a responsibility or task?

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