Research Proposal: Background of the Problem of Handoff Communication in Nursing

Transmitting information from one healthcare specialist to another has always been an issue, and even with the introduction of the latest information technologies into the healthcare field, little has changed. The problem of handoff communication in nursing has a very long and complicated history. Indeed, misconceptions and communication issues between nurses have existed since the beginning of time. However, with the introduction of informational technologies in the XXI century, the problem seemed to have been solved (Streeter, 2010).

Unfortunately, misconceptions and untimely delivery of patients’ information, or the inability to acquire the necessary information, for that matter, is still a major concern. According to what the recent statistical data says, in 97% of cases, the misinterpretation or lack of information concerning the patient’s medical record or the record of the patient’s condition results in serious health issues, and in 73 % cases, the instances of information deficiency are lethal to the patients (Streeter, 2010, p. 6).

It should be noted, though, that the problem has been addressed several times, with little effect, though. In 2003, the idea of integrating the latest information technologies and creating a database for keeping the patients’ records in was suggested (Streeter, 2010). While the given solution allowed for an easier location of the information, the instances of handoff communication misconceptions still continued. The latest suggestions concerning handoff communication among nurses presupposes that human factor should be addressed. Seeing how the latter has recently been defined as the key to information misrepresentation or misunderstanding in 37% of all medical cases (Riesenberg, Leisch & Cunningham, 2010), the means to reduce the human factor have been considered in nursing handoff communication since then. The introduction of professional responsibility is among the most popular responses to the problem in 2010s (Riesenberg, Leisch & Cunningham, 2010).


Riesenberg, L. A., Leisch, L. & Cunningham, J. M. (2010). Nursing handoffs: A systematic review of the literature. American Journal of Nursing, 110(4), pp. 24–34. Web.

Streeter, A. C. R. (2010). What nurses say: Communication behaviors associated with the competent nursing handoff. Kentucky: University of Kentucky Knowledge. Web.

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