Use of a Checklist for the Postanesthesia Care Unit Patient Handoff

Reed S. Halterman, Mohamed Gaber, Muhammad S.T. Janjua, Gerard T. Hogan, Sarah M.I. Cartwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: This quality improvement project aimed to evaluate the benefits of implementing a checklist in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) setting to decrease the omission of health information during the handoff from anesthesia to PACU nurses. Design: Patient handoffs from anesthesia providers were anonymously assessed by PACU nurses before and after the implementation of a handoff checklist with the Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation format. Methods: PACU nurses recorded use of the handoff checklist and if five items of health information were included in the handoff during the preintervention and postintervention phase. Findings: Checklist use increased from 0% to 73% with omitted information decreasing with checklist use: procedure from 19% to 2%, allergies 23% to 4%, input and output 16% to 0%, antiemetic used 21% to 4%, and lines 19% to 11%. Completed handoffs increased from 13% to 82% whereas checklist use remained high, at over 79%, for the 12 weeks after implementation. Conclusions: The project was successful in implementing a standardized checklist and echoed the success of the articles reviewed. The use of a PACU handoff checklist can improve transfer of care by ensuring the provider receives more pertinent medical information during these transfers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-841
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Perianesthesia Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • handoff
  • handoff communication
  • omission errors
  • postoperative
  • transfers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medical–Surgical


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