New handoff protocol boosts surgical security



A brand new examine showcases a profitable high quality enchancment program that considerably enhances surgical security. By implementing a standardized handoff protocol, referred to as SHRIMPS, the examine demonstrates how efficient communication in working rooms (OR) can cut back the danger of errors and enhance affected person care. The findings are revealed within the Journal of the American School of Surgeons (JACS). 

This examine is a chief instance of how high quality enchancment initiatives can result in higher affected person outcomes. By standardizing communication throughout surgical procedures, we are able to be sure that all workforce members are knowledgeable, and that essential info is persistently conveyed, decreasing the danger of errors.” 

Madeline Anderson, DO, examine co-author, surgical procedure resident on the College of Kentucky

Prompted by a frontline stakeholder’s considerations about insufficient high quality surgical technician handoffs, the standard enchancment (QI) workforce on the Lexington VA Medical Heart, affiliated with the College of Kentucky hospital, developed an audit software to judge handoffs throughout numerous surgical circumstances from Might 2022 to February 2024. Preliminary audits revealed handoffs occurred in 82.6% of circumstances, however with solely 34.4% of essential components being communicated. 

In response, the workforce, in collaboration with OR employees, developed a standardized communication guidelines with the acronym “SHRIMPS” (Sharps, Sponges, Hidden or held gadgets, Changed gadgets, Devices & Implants, Drugs, Process overview, Specimens). Though it has nothing to do with the crustacean, the workforce selected the SHRIMPS acronym to be a useful mnemonic gadget for surgical groups. This guidelines was displayed prominently in all ORs on the Lexington VA Medical Heart. 

Key Findings 

  • Earlier than implementing SHRIMPS, handoffs occurred in 82.6% of circumstances, with solely 34.4% of essential components communicated. 

  • After implementing SHRIMPS, 100% of circumstances included handoffs, with 98.2% of essential components addressed. 

  • The period of handoffs averaged 69.4 seconds post-implementation, guaranteeing thorough communication with out considerably growing handoff time. 

“A part of the success of SHRIMPS comes from the QI workforce partaking with each topline and frontline OR stakeholders, together with surgical technicians and circulating nurses,” stated Dr. Anderson. “This method ensures the software is more practical and garners buy-in from the folks in the end utilizing it.” 

The success of the SHRIMPS protocol highlights the numerous affect high quality enchancment packages can have in well being care – by implementing standardized handoff protocols, working rooms can obtain higher communication, fewer errors, and enhanced affected person care, the authors notice. The examine authors advocate for the widespread adoption of such instruments to make sure dependable and environment friendly info switch in surgical environments.


Journal reference:

Stephens, W. S., et al. (2024) Surgical Intraoperative Handoff Initiative: Standardizing Working Room Communication utilizing SHRIMPS. Journal of the American School of Surgeons.


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