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Leveraging telemedicine infrastructure to monitor quality of operating room to intensive care unit handoffs

Academic Medicine July 1, 2017

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PAIR Center Research Team


PURPOSE: To analyze in-room video recordings of operating room (OR) to intensive care unit (ICU) handoffs to determine tempo and quality of team interactions on nights and weekends compared with weekdays, and to demonstrate how existing telemedicine technology can be used to evaluate handoffs.

METHOD: This prospective observational study of OR-to-ICU bedside handoffs was conducted in the surgical ICU of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in July 2014-January 2015. Handoff video recordings were obtained for quality improvement purposes using existing telemedicine cameras. Evaluators used adapted validated in-person assessment measures to analyze basic characteristics and quality measures (timing, report types, report duration, presence of physical exam, teamwork skills, engagement, report delivery skills, listening skills, interruptions, unprofessional comments or actions).

RESULTS: Sixteen weekday and 16 night and weekend handoffs were compared. There were no significant differences in basic characteristics. Most quality measures were similar on weekdays compared with nights and weekends. Surgeons demonstrated better report delivery skills and engagement on nights and weekends (P = .002 and P = .04, respectively), whereas OR anesthesiologists’ scores were similar during both time frames.

CONCLUSIONS: This study presents a novel approach of assessing handoff quality in OR-to-ICU handoffs using an existing telemedicine infrastructure. Using this approach, quality measures of night and weekend handoffs were found to be no worse-and sometimes better-than those during weekdays. Video analysis may emerge as an ideal unobtrusive quality improvement methodology to monitor handoffs and improve education and compliance with institutional handoff policies.


Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation
University of Pennsylvania Provost’s Office