Information handoff and outcomes of critically ill patients transferred between hospitals

Michael G. Usher, Christine Fanning, Di Wu, Christine Muglia, Karen Balonze, Deborah Kim, Amay Parikh, Dana Herrigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose Patients transferred between hospitals are at high risk of adverse events and mortality. This study aims to identify which components of the transfer handoff process are important predictors of adverse events and mortality. Materials and methods We conducted a retrospective, observational study of 335 consecutive patient transfers to 3 intensive care units at an academic tertiary referral center. We assessed the relationship between handoff documentation completeness and patient outcomes. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes included adverse events, duplication of labor, disposition error, and length of stay. Results Transfer documentation was frequently absent with overall completeness of 58.3%. Adverse events occurred in 42% of patients within 24 hours of arrival, with an overall in-hospital mortality of 17.3%. Higher documentation completeness was associated with reduced in-hospital mortality (odds ratio [OR], 0.07; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.02 to 0.38; P = .002), reduced adverse events (coefficient, −2.08; 95% CI, −2.76 to −1.390; P < .001), and reduced duplication of labor (OR, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.04 to 0.88; P = .033) when controlling for severity of illness. Conclusions Documentation completeness is associated with improved outcomes and resource utilization in patients transferred between hospitals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-245
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Critical Care
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


  • Handoff
  • ICU mortality
  • Information
  • Interhospital transfer
  • Transitions of care


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