Long-Term Sustainability and Adaptation of I-PASS Handovers

Sophia L. Ryan, Merranda Logan, Xiu Liu, David M. Shahian, Elizabeth Mort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Inadequate communication during transitions of care is a major health care quality and safety vulnerability. In 2013 Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) embarked on a comprehensive training program using a standardized handover system (I-PASS) that had been shown to reduce adverse events by 30% even when not completely executed on each patient. In this cross-sectional study, the authors sought to characterize handover practices six years later. Methods: Using a standardized interview tool, the researchers evaluated handovers between responding clinicians in 10 departments and then validated these findings through direct observations, allowing for flexibility and customization in the I-PASS elements. The study qualitatively compared I-PASS element use in verbal handovers to MGH early postintervention data, as well as verbal and written handovers with the I-PASS Study Group's postintervention results. Results: The authors observed 156 verbal and reviewed 182 written patient handovers. Ninety percent of departments adhered at least partially to the I-PASS system. Average handover duration ranged from 0.6 to 2.1 minutes per established patient. The service with best I-PASS adherence also consistently included the most information per unit of time. Acknowledging substantial differences in study technique, MGH adherence was, on average, comparable or better on all I-PASS elements in verbal handovers and on three of four elements of written handovers compared with the I-PASS Study Group's postintervention results. Conclusion: Although uptake has varied across services, six years after hospitalwide implementation of I-PASS, the majority of services are performing structured and sequenced handovers, most of which include some elements of the I-PASS system. Those services with the best I-PASS adherence conducted the most efficient handovers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-697
Number of pages9
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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