Effectiveness of written hospitalist sign-outs in answering overnight inquiries
Article first published online: 16 OCT 2013
© 2013 Society of Hospital Medicine
Journal of Hospital Medicine
Volume 8, Issue 11, pages 609–614, November 2013
How to Cite
Fogerty, R. L., Schoenfeld, A., Salim Al-Damluji, M. and Horwitz, L. I. (2013), Effectiveness of written hospitalist sign-outs in answering overnight inquiries. J. Hosp. Med., 8: 609–614. doi: 10.1002/jhm.2090
- Issue published online: 4 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 16 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 6 SEP 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 2 SEP 2013
- Manuscript Received: 20 MAY 2013
Hospitalists are key providers of care to medical inpatients, and sign-out is an integral part of providing safe, high-quality inpatient care. There is little known about hospitalist-to-hospitalist sign-out.
To evaluate the quality of hospitalist/physician-extender sign-outs by assessing how well the sign-out prepares the night team for overnight events and to determine attributes of effective sign-out.
Analysis of a written-only sign-out protocol on a nonteaching hospitalist service using prospective data collected by an attending physician survey during overnight shifts.
Yale–New Haven Hospital, a 966-bed, urban, academic medical center in New Haven, Connecticut with approximately 13,700 hospitalist discharges annually.
We recorded 124 inquiries about 96 patients during 6 days of data collection in 2012. Hospitalists referenced the sign-out for 89 (74%) inquiries, and the sign-out was considered sufficient in isolation to respond to 27 (30%) of these inquiries. Hospitalists physically saw the patient for 14 (12%) of inquiries. Nurses were the originator for most inquiries (102 [82%]). The most common inquiry topics were medications (55 [45%]), plan of care (26 [21%]), and clinical changes (26 [21%]). Ninety-five (77%) inquiries were considered to be “somewhat” or “very” clinically important by the hospitalist.
Overall, we found that attending hospitalists rely heavily on written sign-out to address overnight inquiries, but that those sign-outs are not reliably effective. Future work to better understand the roles of written and verbal components in sign-out is needed to help improve the safety of overnight care. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2013;8:609–614. © 2013 Society of Hospital Medicine