The Effectiveness of an Anesthesia Handoff Tool: An Electronic Health Record Application to Enhance Patient Safety


  • Karen Elizabeth Gillikin, MSN, MSNA DNP, CRNA Old Dominion University
  • Nathaniel Apatov, MSN, MHS, PhD, CRNA Old Dominion University School of Nursing


Anesthesia handoff, electronic health record, patient care transfer.


Perioperative patient care handoffs are complex and multidimensional and require accurate attention to detail. Communication failures among healthcare providers increase the risk of morbidity and mortality. Utilizing a standardized handoff tool located within the electronic anesthesia record formalizes the handoff process and improves patient safety. Prior to the introduction of the Electronic Anesthesia Handoff Tool, 82 patient care transfer observations were conducted; subsequent to the launch of the tool, 75 patient care transfer observations were conducted, and then before and after comparisons were made. Descriptive statistics, a two-tailed t-test, and Spearman’s correlations were conducted. Alpha level was set at p < 0.05. There were significantly (p<.05) fewer errors made in all categories of patient information following the introduction of the Electronic Anesthesia Handoff Tool. Though there were trends towards more omissions occurring after 3:00 p.m., the difference in most patient information categories was not significant (p>.05). In addition, there were no differences in omissions related to the severity of patient co-morbidities based on patients’ American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status classification. This study provided information regarding the incidence of patient information inaccuracies and omissions during patient care transfer before and after implementation of an electronic patient care transfer tool. 

Author Biographies

  • Karen Elizabeth Gillikin, MSN, MSNA DNP, CRNA, Old Dominion University

    Karen Gillikin, MSN, MSNA DNP, CRNA, is an Associate Director at Old Dominion University School of Nursing, Nurse Anesthesia Program, Norfolk, VA. She also works as a staff CRNA for Sentara Medical Group, Hampton, VA.

  • Nathaniel Apatov, MSN, MHS, PhD, CRNA, Old Dominion University School of Nursing
    Director at Old Dominion University School of Nursing, Nurse Anesthesia Program, Norfolk, VA.  He also works as a staff CRNA for Bon Secours DePaul Hospital, Norfolk, VA


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