About Handoff

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This information explains what handoff is and how you can take part in handoff. In this resource, the words “you” and “your” refer to you or your child.

What is handoff?

Handoff is when one healthcare team passes your health information to another healthcare team. This helps make sure everyone is up to date on how you’re feeling and what’s going on with your care. For example:

  • When your nurse’s shift is over, they will give the next nurse who’s caring for you an update on your health and plan of care.
  • After you see a specialist, they will give your primary physician (main doctor) an update about what happened during your visit.

Handoff can happen at any point in your care. It only takes a few minutes. You may have a handoff more than once during your care.

Handoff doesn’t replace the other conversations that you and your healthcare providers have. Your healthcare providers will still talk with you to see how you’re doing and give you updates about your care.

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What happens during handoff?

During handoff, your healthcare team will do many things, such as:

  • Introduce themselves to you and anyone with you.
  • Invite you to take part in the handoff. If you want anyone else to take part, tell your team.
  • Talk about your health, including why you’re being seen and what’s going on with your care.
  • Review your medical chart.
  • Check the medications you’re taking.
  • Look at your intravenous (IV) lines, equipment, bandages, and other things important for your care.
  • Talk about any tests that were done.
  • Talk about your plans for discharge or care at home.
  • Encourage you to ask questions and share your concerns.
  • Ask you about information you want passed on to your next care team.
  • Ask you about your care goal so it’s included in your plan.
  • Ask you about any special needs.
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What should I do during handoff?

During handoff, you can ask questions and share information with your healthcare team. You can:

  • Listen. You’re an important part of your healthcare team. We want to make sure you have all the information about your care and that you get the information right away.
  • Speak up. If you have questions, handoff is a good time to talk about them.
  • Ask questions. If your healthcare team uses words or shares information you don’t understand, it’s okay to ask them to explain it.

It’s very helpful for you to take part in handoff. This is one way you can be a partner in your care and help make sure you get the best care possible.

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