1. Cronn, Susan DNP, RN
  2. Trevino, Colleen PhD, RN
  3. Jansen, Kay DNP, RN


Background: Inconsistent and nonstandardized patient handoffs can increase the risk of adverse events. Using change theory may promote adoption of effective handoff processes.


Local Problem: A Midwest emergency department (ED) had no standardized practice for shift change handoffs. Previous handoff quality improvement efforts had been unsuccessful.


Methods: A pre/postintervention pilot project design was used. Nurses' compliance with the new handoff protocol was evaluated.


Interventions: Using Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory, an evidence-based shift change protocol was designed and implemented, which included a comprehensive handoff tool specific to the ED.


Results: Four elements in the new shift change process saw statistically significant improvements after implementation, including discussion of the patient's illness severity (P = .001), synthesis of the patient's care (P < .001), completing a bedside safety checklist (P < .001), and providing a formal transition-of-care process (P < .001).


Conclusions: Using DOI theory may improve the adoption of new shift change practices.