Clinical handoff, emergency room, inpatient, patient safety



  1. Alimenti, Darcy MSN, RN, OCN, AGACNP-BC
  2. Buydos, Sarah MSN, RN, CCRN, ACNPC-AG
  3. Cunliffe, Lindsay MPH, MSN, RN, AGACNP-BC
  4. Hunt, Alexandra MSN, RN, AGACNP-BC


Background and purpose: Patient handoffs have long been identified as a potentially challenging time for patients because poor communication produces numerous complications. This is especially true with regards to patient care handoffs between areas such as the emergency department (ED) and inpatient setting. The purpose of this systematic review is to analyze existing literature pertaining to standardized handoffs between the ED and inpatient setting and its effect on perceived patient safety to guide future research, clinical practice, and patient safety.


Methods: A review was conducted using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Studies were selected using predetermined inclusion/exclusion criteria: primary research and patient handoff from the ED to the inpatient setting. Quality assessment of the studies was completed using The Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tool.


Conclusion: Existing studies demonstrate the potential for increased perception of patient safety as well as provider satisfaction when appropriate staff education and standardized handoff tools are implemented. There is a lack of data on the standardization of handoff tools between the ED and inpatient setting and their impact on perceived patient safety.


Implications for practice: The combination of provider education and implementation of standardized handoff tools in the ED positively affects perceptions of patient safety and provider satisfaction. Hospital administrations should strongly consider incorporating standardized handoff tools into practice.