UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: EMS

Title: ED handoff of pediatric patients by EMS

Keywords: handoff, communication, adverse outcomes (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/19/2023 by Jenny Guyther, MD
Click here to contact Jenny Guyther, MD

Ineffective handoff communications have been shown to occur in up to 80% of medical errors.  Previous studies have shown that up to 1/3 of pertinent information is lost during the handoff of trauma patients.  Interruptions, lack of listening and ED team preoccupation with their own patient assessment have been associated with adverse outcomes.
This study reviewed videotaped footage of pediatric critical care resuscitations and the handoff between the ED and EMS.  Inefficient communication occurred in 87% of handoffs, including 51% of cases with interruptions by staff, 40% with questions from the ED leader about information that had already been given and 65% requesting information that had not yet been communicated.
Bottom line: Allow for an uninterrupted hand off from EMS followed by closed loop communication and asking any additional questions.


Sumner BD, Grimsley EA, Cochrane NH, et al. Videographic Assessment of the Quality of EMS to ED Handoff Communication During Pediatric Resuscitations. Prehosp Emerg Care. 2019;23(1):15-21. doi:10.1080/10903127.2018.1481475