The Particulars: Previous research has found that implementing a shift change protocol called PACT—which stands for Priority, Admissions, Changes, and Task Review—enables surgical residents to complete more tasks and learn more about patients on morning rounds. Use of a checklist may enhance the PACT protocol.

Data Breakdown: For a study, researchers used a focus group to design a four-item checklist that was to be used with the PACT protocol. The checklist asked physicians to designate a leader, pre-mark their handoff list, move to a quiet place, and set communication devices to vibrate. Handoffs using PACT with the checklist were compared with those using PACT alone. The following was observed:

Parameter PACT Alone PACT With Checklist
Average handoff time 22 minutes 15 minutes
Average number of interruptions 4 2
Average errors per shift 0.03 0.00
Percentage of incomplete tasks per shift 27% 28%

Take Home Pearl: Use of a checklist in addition to PACT protocols appears to improve communication and reduce handoff times, interruptions, and errors during surgical patient handoffs.