Quality of Handoffs in Community Pharmacies

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The aims of the study were to characterize handoffs in community pharmacies and to examine factors that contribute to perceived handoff quality.


A cross-sectional study of community pharmacists in a Midwest State of the United States. Self-administered questionnaires were used to collect information on participant and practice setting characteristics. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression.


A total of 445 completed surveys were returned (response rate, 82%). In almost half of the time, handoffs that occur in a community pharmacy setting were inaccurate or incomplete. Nearly half of the time handoffs occur in environments full of interruptions and distractions. More than 90% of the respondents indicated that they have undergone no formal training on proper ways of handing off information. Nearly 40% of respondents reported that their pharmacy dispensing technology does not have adequate functionality to support handing off information and that at least 50% of the time, poor handoffs result in additional work to the pharmacist because of the need for complete information before providing patient care. Multivariate analysis showed that being very familiar with patients, lower daily prescription volume, not having a 24-hour operation, and larger percentage of handoffs occurring in a synchronous fashion are all associated with better handoff quality.


Handoffs occur frequently and are problematic in community pharmacies. Current pharmacy environments offer limited support to conduct good handoffs, and as a result, pharmacists report loss of information. This could present as a significant patient safety hazard. Future interventions should target facilitating better communication during shift changes.

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