PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) continues to provide top-notch care by utilizing quality improvement tools such as I-PASS to ensure patient safety techniques are continually reinforced.
The I-PASS mnemonic, or memory aid, provides a concise list of information about the patient that is critical for the next provider.
I - is for Illness severity; P - is for Patient summary; A - is for Action list; S - is for Situational awareness and contingency planning; and the final S - is for Synthesis by receiver.
"We researched several different handoff tools that we could implement to assist us in maintaining excellence in patient care," said Cmdr. Rhett Barrett, I-PASS program director. "This curriculum is essential because it creates a clear, defined structure for communication every time patient care is transferred from one provider or nurse to another."
According to the I-PASS study group, communication and handoff failures are both common and hazardous, and they have been identified by The Joint Commission (TJC) and Department of Defense as a contributing cause in approximately two out of every three Sentinel Events. A Sentinel Event is defined by TJC as any unanticipated event in a healthcare setting resulting in death or serious physical or psychological injury to a patient or patients, not related to the natural course of the patient's illness.
To ensure the medical center's personnel are being properly trained, the I-PASS handoff mnemonic has been integrated into command-wide Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS) training, which is a teamwork-based program designed to improve patient safety, enhance performance, augment overall communication, and advance teamwork skills.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires institutions to provide training and monitoring of structured handoffs, and the medical center is meeting this requirement by utilizing I-PASS/TeamSTEPPS training.
Not only is it critical to ensure everyone is fully trained, the implementation of continual quality assurance checks verifies the quality of the training.
"We do these checks to provide opportunity for feedback about the handoff process, which is essential in helping staff improve their communication skills and keeping the exchange of information effective," Barrett said.
Through the use of training, assessments and practical application, there has been a significant decline in communication errors.
"Communication at the time of patient handoffs is a critical skill that has to be learned and practiced in order to do it well," said Barrett. "The I-PASS curriculum has been an invaluable tool for teaching and improving communication and helping our staff provide high quality, safe patient care."
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