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Medical Study Finds Improved Communication Reduces Errors

BOSTON (CBS) – Improvements in communication between doctors during patient handoffs can reduce injuries due to medical errors by 30 percent, according to a study led by researchers from Boston Children's Hospital.

A team led by Dr. Christopher Landrigan and Dr. Amy Starmer created I-PASS, a multifaceted intervention targeting improved communication, with a goal to reduce medical errors.

"Communication is so culturally engrained in terms of how we interact with each other and we were trying to really change the culture of how doctors were talking with each other to make sure the correct pieces of information got passed off every time," Starmer said..

The development of I-PASS involved introducing new teamwork and handoff training for resident physicians. The team also put new structures for verbal handoff process into motion and created computerized tools within the electronic medical records of all nine hospitals that participated in the project. Finally, they developed a campaign for culture change in the medical facilities.

"What we pushed in this protocol was to make sure that the person who was coming on to the shift overnight was given really explicit information about decisions that have been made during the day, the thought process about what went wrong, and what might go wrong, not just what boxes needed to be checked on duty," Landrigan said. "So, when things arose at night, they were better prepared to deal with those contingencies."

The I-PASS curriculum is available to the public online at no cost:

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Diane Stern reports:


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