Nurse-to-nurse handoff peri-operative setting

Nurses have different ways to conduct the handoff of patients before they get to the surgical room. In some cases, handoffs are done verbally and may mistake arise as a result. Nurses tend to use their approach that suits them. The lack of a clearly defined way of handling handoffs may lead to loss of vital information regarding a patient and jeopardizes the safety of a patient. The handoff reports can lack proper organization of details and may not originate from the prime nurse during handoff transfer, triggering problems. A suitable intervention like introducing a training program on how to analyze records and use available tools to the maximum in preparation of handoffs can be useful (Briones, 2016). The preoperative settings, such as the holding room, emergency department, or the floor room, also have different modes of operation before a patient gets to the operating room. The various policies, team structure, and techniques of communication used by these units may present barriers during handoff processing. The handoff quality also dictates the quality of care a patient receives. Poor quality handoffs lead to misinterpretation of information and cause surgical delays; however, a structured handoff eliminates such errors (Lorinc & Henson, 2018).

Nurses play a crucial role in bridging the gap between the patient expectations and the services the surgical room delivers. Therefore, nurses are obligated to perform a thorough assessment to identify patient risk factors before a medical operation. The advancement of technology has prepared handoffs complex and increased chances of communication between nurses crashing. Workloads and inadequate recording systems have resulted in information loss leading to medication errors, surgery on wrong sites, and death. Patient safety can be enhanced by the conduction of an assessment to identify the patient’s risks and to meet their expectations (Malley et al., 2015). The communication barrier in the processing of handoffs accounts for almost 43 percent of wrong surgical cases. Most medical schools fail to educate graduates on the preparation of an effective handoff. The organization also may fail to train the new professionals of the procedure the current staff undertakes in handoff preparation. A close relationship and understanding between the nurses the surgeons need to exist so that the information conveyed in the handoff matches the physician’s interpretation (Friesen et al., 2016). Medical schools and organizations should set up elaborate means to train and educate nurses on how to communicate effectively in handoffs.

According to Gross et al., 2018, teamwork breaks communication barriers and enhances surgical safety. Collaboration creates a platform where nurses tend to comprehend the mode of operation of each professional and for them to understand their tasks. Staff education on how to deal with the transition of care also builds up teamwork spirit and reduces possible scandals associated with surgery. The COVID 19 pandemic has led to the need to squeeze resources and has changed surgical operations. The pandemic regulations require minimum numbers of staff involvement; therefore, the transition of responsibilities and handoffs has changed. Nurses need to work with precautions so that they do not get infected by COVID 19 victims. At the same time, they need to provide quality care to patients with other conditions. The collection of information and preparation of handoffs should be critical to avoid the spread of the disease (Perrone et al., 2020).

The use of mnemonics can improve the quality of handoffs. Mnemonic increases the memory of nurses in understanding the steps to prepare a detailed handoff. Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) format provides a comprehensive and straightforward guideline for quality handoffs (Shahid & Thomas, 2018). In some instances, the patients may wrongly deliver information, and nurses end up gathering incorrect information. A patient self-care program should be implemented to educate patients on ways to express their expectations so that they receive quality care. For example, the implementation of a video system in the holding room helps patients to acquaint themselves with the methods the nurses use in the provision of services (Richmond, 2016).


Briones, A. A. (2016). Admission handoff between emergency department and inpatient units.

Friesen, M. A., White, S. V., & Byers, J. F. (2016). Handoffs: Implications for nurses – Patient safety and quality – NCBI bookshelf. National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Gross, M., Labricciosa, A., & Espin, S. (2018). Examining Tools, Processes & Resources to Promote Communication and Teamwork in the Perioperative Setting.

Lorinc, A., & Henson, C. (2018, September 17). All handoffs are not the same: What perioperative handoffs do we participate in and how are they different? Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation.

Malley, A., Kenner, C., Kim, T., & Blakeney, B. (2015, August 24). The role of the nurse and the preoperative assessment in patient transitions. PubMed Central (PMC).

Perrone, G., Chiarugi, M., Di Marzo, F., Ansaloni, L., Scandroglio, I., Zago, M., De Paolis, P., & Forfori, F. (2020, April 7). Surgery in COVID-19 patients: Operational directives. PubMed Central (PMC).

Richmond, S. K. (2016). Evidence-Based Practice Project Proposal: Reducing CHFRR Through the Get Well Networks CHF Prevention Education Materials.

Shahid, S., & Thomas, S. (2018, July 28). Situation, background, assessment, recommendation (SBAR) communication tool for handoff in health care – A narrative review. Safety in Health.

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