Handoff Program Cuts Hospital Errors 30% in Trial

Katarina Siegfeld | November 17th, 2014

female surgeonA handoff program implemented as part of a trial in several hospital centers cut medical errors by 30%, according to a recently published article. The approach is termed I-PASS (for illness severity, patient summary, action list, situation awareness and contingency plans, and synthesis by receiver) and is communication system and training tool used to reduce miscommunication and resulting errors that occur during patient “handoffs” from one doctor or medical provider to the next.

Whereas a previously published study had found positive results for the program in a relatively limited setting (two inpatient units in Boston Children’s Hospital), the present study encompasses nine different medical centers. The latest study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on November 6.

At The Sanders Firm, we are NY hospital malpractice lawyers who believe that programs like these represent a step in the right direction where error reduction is concerned.

Hospital malpractice and errors

According to senior author Christopher Landrigan, MD, MPH, from Boston Children’s Division of General Pediatrics, “Miscommunications and handoff errors are two of the most significant causes of medical errors in hospitals in the U.S.” Landigran added that the program was the first successful example of its kind to function as part of a multi-site model.

The study found that the I-PASS program resulted in the reduction of medical errors overall by 23% (from 24.5 to 18.8 errors per 100 admitted patients) and that preventable adverse events fell by 30% (from 4.7 to 3.3 errors per 100 admitted patients). The study also found that implementing the program did not result in a more time-consuming or less efficient practice overall.

Unfortunately, too many preventable errors continue to be made at the expense of patients in a hospital setting. Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the serious errors made in hospitals are the result of miscommunication, especially during patient handoff.

If you have suffered injury due to hospital errors, including those incurred during the handoff phase of patient care, our NY hospital malpractice lawyers are available to answer your question as part of a complimentary consultation.

Filing a New York medical errors lawsuit

Filing a hospital malpractice lawsuit may not be the right course of action for everyone. However, for some patients, it may be the best way to get the compensation that they require for their injuries and related expenses and, in some cases, to see justice done when their injury was caused by the negligence of doctors and the hospital.

You may not be able to file a lawsuit over a simple mistake. However, if the treatment you received in the hospital fell below the accepted standard of care and resulted in serious injury or the death of a relative, you may very well have a case. It is important that you partner with skilled legal counsel to establish your best course of action.

New York medical malpractice attorneys at The Sanders Firm can review your claim to determine whether you have a viable lawsuit. You can count on us to do a thorough investigation, if we take your case, in order to present evidence in the clearest and fairest manner. Please call us at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY (800-324-7752) with any questions or to set up a no-cost, no-obligation meeting with one of our lawyers.


  1. Medscape, Better Handoffs Cut Medical Errors 30% in Multicenter Trial http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/834496

  2. New England Journal of Medicine, Changes in Medical Errors after Implementation of a Handoff Program http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1405556?af=R&rss=currentIssue&;