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Many consider it the most critical moment of any nurse’s shift. At the end of a shift, it’s obviously time to transfer patients to a new nurse. This demands rapidly educating the incoming nurse on however many patients they’re caring for and in a brief amount of time. Traditionally, nurses would use written reports to relay important information to others nurses, or briefly confer in a hallway outside of the patient’s room. But those methods haven’t been efficient, and now according to Laura Landro of The Wall Street Journal, some hospitals are changing the way nurses perform a shift-change entirely.

It’s called “bedside shift reporting,” and it’s actually nothing new. Many hospitals have been doing this for a long time; however, it’s still growing in popularity as it demonstrates improved patient outcomes. Bedside shift reporting is a more transparent way of bringing incoming nurses up to speed when they take on another nurse’s patients. Both the nurse preparing to leave and the incoming nurse meet to discuss the patient, directly in front of the patient and any family member the patient allows to be present.

“Conducting nurse change-of-shift report at the bedside with the patient and family should be viewed as a core safety strategy in hospitals today,” said Beverley Johnson, CEO of the Institute for Patient-and-Family-Centered Care, to Landro in the article.  “It is a very tangible way to ensure that complete and accurate information is shared and there is mutual understanding of the care plan and other priorities.”

The problem with the traditional method of shift-changes is the often omission of critical information. As Landro explained:

When nurses aren’t in the room for the handover, patients not only fall more often but also may have problems with intravenous lines or urinary catheters. And there is no opportunity for patients and family members to ask questions, state concerns or convey their own goals.

Not only has bedside shift reporting reportedly improved the amount of patient falls and other common errors, hospitals using bedside shift reporting are experiencing better patient feedback, which goes a long way under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA offers fiscal incentives for positive patient feedback.

Landro’s article is a must-read for a more in-depth look at bedside shift reporting and why more hospitals are starting to utilize this practice. It’s another measure that can be taken to improve patient outcomes and ensure better communication. As THS has covered in the past this is not the standard experience, and there’s a massive wave of nurses simply “burned out,” due to stressful conditions.