June 28, 2024

Standardized handoff protocol improves OR communication

Editor's Note

Findings published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons show how a standardized handoff protocol can improve OR communication and reduce the risk of error, Medical Xpress reported on June 19.

The study focused specifically on SHRIMPS, a standardized handoff protocol developed by the quality improvement team at the Lexington VA Medical Center, affiliated with the University of Kentucky. SHRIMPS stands for Sharps, Sponges, Hidden or held items, Replaced items, Instruments & Implants, Medications, Procedure overview, Specimens. This mnemonic checklist ensures that all critical information is consistently communicated during surgical handoffs.

Key findings of the study include:

  • Before SHRIMPS, handoffs occurred in 82.6% of cases, with only 34.4% of critical elements communicated.
  • After SHRIMPS, handoffs occurred in 100% of cases, with 98.2% of critical elements addressed.
  • The average duration of handoffs post-implementation was 69.4 seconds.
  • Announcements of handoffs to the entire OR team increased to 97.1%.

Researchers attribute the success of SHRIMPS to user buy-in, including surgical technicians and circulating nurses. They advocate widespread adoption of such protocols to improve communication, reduce errors, and enhance patient care in surgical environments.


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