Nurses' Information Management and Use of Electronic Tools During Acute Care Handoffs

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Abstract

Little evidence is available about nurses' use of electronic tools during handoffs. This qualitative study explored information management and use of electronic tools during nursing handoffs. The sample included 93 handoffs by 26 nurses on 5 medical/surgical units in 2 western hospitals with a robust electronic health record (EHR). Data collection included audiotaping handoffs, semi-structured interviews, observations, and fieldnotes. The dataset was inductively coded into 33 categories and 5 themes: good nurse expectations for handoffs, paper forms are best, information at a glance, only pertinent information please, and information tools that work. Two-thirds of the nurses abandoned use of the leadership-endorsed electronic handoff form, preferring personal paper forms. The findings suggest effective electronic solutions will require extensive contextually-based information, information integrated across EHR modules and portable, electronic support throughout shifts. This is a call to action for leaders and informaticists as they select and design future electronic tools.

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