Improving year-end transfers of care in academic ambulatory clinics: a survey of pediatric resident physician perceptions

Carlos F Lerner, Leslie J Hamilton, Thomas S Klitzner
Medical Education Online 2012, 17

BACKGROUND: In resident primary care continuity clinics, at the end of each academic year, continuity of care is disrupted when patients cared for by the graduating class are redistributed to other residents. Yet, despite the recent focus on the transfers of care between resident physicians in inpatient settings, there has been minimal attention given to patient care transfers in academic ambulatory clinics. We sought to elicit the views of pediatric residents regarding year-end patient handoffs in a pediatric resident continuity clinic.

METHODS: Residents assigned to a continuity clinic of a large pediatric residency program completed a questionnaire regarding year-end transfers of care.

RESULTS: Thirty-one questionnaires were completed out of a total 45 eligible residents (69% response). Eighty seven percent of residents strongly or somewhat agreed that it would be useful to receive a written sign-out for patients with complex medical or social issues, but only 35% felt it would be useful for patients with no significant issues. Residents more frequently reported having access to adequate information regarding their new patients' medical summary (53%) and care plan (47%) than patients' functional abilities (30%), social history (17%), or use of community resources (17%). When rating the importance of receiving adequate sign-out in each those domains, residents gave most importance to the medical summary (87% of residents indicating very or somewhat important) and plan of care (84%). Residents gave less importance to receiving sign-out regarding their patients' functional abilities (71%) social history (58%), and community resources (58%). Residents indicated that lack of access to adequate patient information resulted in additional work (80%), delays or omissions in needed care (56%), and disruptions in continuity of care (58%).

CONCLUSIONS: In a single-site study, residents perceive that they lack adequate information during year-end patient transfers, resulting in potential negative consequences for patient safety and medical education.

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