Does a Standardized Post-Anesthesia Care (PACU) Handoff Checklist in the Adult Surgical Patient Improve the Effectiveness of Information Transfer: A Systematic Literature Review

Walczyk, Mary

Purpose: Handoff of the surgical patient in the post-anesthesia care unit necessities a succinct and accurate transfer of information between health care providers. During this transfer of care, ineffective communication and loss of crucial and pertinent information can directly impact patient safety. The aim of this systematic literature review is to focus on evidence evaluating a standardized checklist when transferring the care of an adult surgical patient to the PACU setting.

Design and Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted using the PubMed and CINHAL electronic databases.

Results: Five studies were included in the review and four themes were identified. The first theme included the effectiveness of information transfer and all five articles concluded that use of a standardized checklist decreases the omission of critical information. The second theme of efficiency in duration of handoff time was explored, and a slight increase in time with the use of standardized checklist was reported. The third theme explored the checklist formulation of content items, and the extent of how the checklist was developed varied between the studies. The fourth and last theme included barriers to participants’ use of the checklist. Cited reasons for the poor compliance included lack of knowledge in that every item needed to be addressed on the checklist, unwillingness of the participants, culture of the department, and the checklist design.

Conclusion: A standardized handoff checklist is recommended to assist with a more complete transfer of critical information and streamline the workflow process when transitioning the care of the surgical patient post-surgical procedure.