Improving Communication From Hospital to Skilled Nursing Facility Through Standardized Hand-Off: A Quality Improvement Project
Keywords:communication, medication administration, standardized hand-off, quality improvement, skilled nursing facility
Background: Inadequate hand-off communication from hospital to skilled nursing facility (SNF) hinders SNF nurses’ ability to prepare for specific patient needs, including prescriptions for critical medications, such as controlled medications and intravenous (IV) antibiotics, resulting in delayed medication administration. This project aims to improve hand-off communication from hospital to SNF by utilizing a standardized hand-off tool. This project was conducted in an inpatient, 50-bed, post-hospital skilled nursing care unit of a local SNF. The participants included all 32 staff nurses employed by the SNF.
Methods: Lewin’s change management theory (CMT) guided this quality improvement (QI) project. Baseline assessment included a one-month chart review of 76 patient charts that was conducted to assess the disparities related to ineffective hand-off and medication delays in the SNF before intervention. The wait time for the availability of prescriptions for controlled medications and IV antibiotics, and delays in medication administration were assessed.
Intervention: Multiple randomly selected hospital-to-SNF hand-offs were observed. Semistructured interviews with all staff nurses were conducted using open-ended questions about hand-off structure and process matters. Data gathered from observation and interviews were used to create the standardized hand-off tool used in this project. In-service training on hand-off tool utilization for SNF nurses was conducted. Champions for each shift were cultivated to assist with project implementation.
Results: After six weeks of implementation, a chart review of 101 patient charts was conducted to evaluate the effects of the hand-off tool on the wait time on the availability of prescriptions for controlled medications and IV antibiotics, and medication administration. The wait time of prescriptions availability during the hospital-to-SNF transition was decreased by 79% for controlled medications, with an associated 52.9% reduction in late administration, and decreased by 94% for IV antibiotics, with a 77.8% reduction in late administration.
Conclusion: The use of standardized hand-off resulted in improved communication during the hospital-to-SNF hand-off and significantly decreased the wait time for the availability of prescriptions for controlled medications and IV antibiotics. Integrating standardized hand-off into the SNF policies can help sustain improved communication, medication management, and patient transition from hospital to SNF.
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