A handoff is not a telegram: An understanding of the patient is co-constructed

Michael D. Cohen, Brian Hilligoss, André C. Kajdacsy-Balla Amaral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Hospital handoffs are believed to be a key locus of communication breakdown that can endanger patient safety and undermine quality of care. Substantial new efforts to better understand handoffs and to improve handoff practices are under way. Many such efforts appear to be seriously hampered, however, by an underlying presumption that the essential function of a handoff is one-way information transmission. Here, we examine social science literature that supports a richer framing of handoff conversations, one that characterizes them as co-constructions of an understanding of the patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number303
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 8 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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