Box 13: Minimising administrative risks
Transfers of care
This includes shift handovers, transfers to other wards and departments, transfers between hospitals and discharge home. In all these scenarios it is crucial that those taking over the patient’s care be equipped with up-to-date key information. At a minimum, it should include diagnosis, treatment plans, medications, outstanding tests and test results.
Tests and investigations
When arranging urgent tests and investigations, let the lab know who they should contact with the results, especially if you are likely to be off-duty by the time they are available (and be sure to let the incoming shift know). Make a note in the patient’s record whenever tests and investigations are arranged, and record the results once they are available. Any abnormal results should be acted upon, not just filed in the notes.
Make a habit of checking a patient’s identity – either by asking the patient or by checking the wristband – before administering any treatment. Don’t rely on names on bedheads or on the charts at the foot of the bed as patient may have got – or been put – into the wrong bed. For handover, use a combination of identifying information (eg, name, age, DOB, diagnosis, bed number) to avoid confusion over patients with the same or similar-sounding names. Do not rely solely on bed or bay numbers to refer to patients as these may change.
Record any crucial information as soon after the event as possible.