A transition of care is the movement of a patient from one health care setting or provider to another. Examples are:
- discharge from hospital to home;
- admission from home to a hospital; or
- movement from one unit to another within the hospital.
Transitions of care typically involve the coordination of care and “hand-off” communication.
This is where important information can sometimes be overlooked, missed, or miscommunicated.
One study estimated that as many as 80 percent of serious medical errors involve miscommunication during the hand-off between medical providers.1
Keeping the patient at the center of their own care is essential.
Communication failures and other gaps in the transition of care can leave someone vulnerable to error. One tried-and-true method of addressing these gaps is to fully engage patients and families in their care. To empower and educate patients and families about their plan of care.
The UVM Medical Center uses many strategies to reduce problems around transitions of care.
Initiatives such as bedside nurse hand-off, patient centered rounding, secure access to patient medical records, and Accountable Care Units, are just a few examples. The one constant through any transition of care is you, the patient, and your family.
Patient safety: How to partner with your health care team to prevent gaps in transitions of care:
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what will happen next
- Don’t settle for an answer you don’t fully understand
- If something doesn’t sound as though it will work for you, tell your doctor or nurse
- Know who to call if something doesn’t go as planned
- Have a friend or family member listen to instructions with you
- Clarify activity or bathing instructions
- Understand your dietary recommendations
- Repeat back instructions you hear using your own words
- Understand your follow-up appointments and why they are needed
- Ask “What are the red flags I should be watching for?”
- Medication changes are a particular area to focus on:
- Be sure you understand any new medications, what they are for, and how you should take them
- Know what medications you will stop taking
- Know what medications you will continue taking
- Keep a list of your medications with you and keep it up to date
- Click here for a Medication Wallet Cardyou can use to keep track of your medications
- Sign up for access to your health record to stay informed about your care at MyHealth Online
- If transitioning from hospital to home:
- Expect that you will be given verbal and written instructions prior to leaving
- Clarify instructions that you don’t understand before you leave
- Have emergency telephone numbers near you at home
- Use night-lights in bedrooms and bathrooms to prevent falls at night
- Wear non-slip socks, shoes or slippers
- Keep walkways clear of clutter
- Confirm your transportation needs prior to discharge
Access the National Transitions of Care Coalition site for additional information and resources.
Partner with us, speak up, and don’t leave patient safety to chance!
- Solet DJ, et al: Lost in translation: challenges and opportunities in physician-to-physician communication during patient hand-offs. Academic Medicine, 2005; 80:1094-9