Development of a standard sign-out procedure for clinicians in a pediatric intensive care unit

Aarti C Bavare, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: Poor communication among health care providers is cited as the most common cause of sentinel events involving patients. Sign-out of patient data at the change of clinician shifts is a component of communication that is especially vulnerable to errors. Sign-outs are particularly extensive and complex in intensive care units (ICUs). There is a paucity of validated tools to assess ICU sign-outs. Objective: To design a valid and reliable survey tool to assess the perceptions of Pediatric ICU (PICU) clinicians about sign-out. Design: Cross-sectional, web-based survey Setting: Academic hospital, 31-bed PICU Subjects: Attending faculty, fellows, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Interventions: A survey was designed with input from a focus group and administered to PICU clinicians. Test-retest reliability, internal consistency and validity of the survey tool were assessed. Measurements and Main Results: Forty-eight PICU clinicians agreed to participate. We had 42(88%) and 40(83%) responses in the test and retest phases. The mean scores for the ten survey items ranged from 2.79 to 3.67 on a five point Likert scale with no significant test-retest difference and a Pearson correlation between pre and post answers of 0.65. The survey item scores showed internal consistency with a Cronbach's Alpha of 0.85. Exploratory factor analysis revealed three constructs: efficacy of sign-out process, recipient satisfaction and content applicability. Seventy eight % clinicians affirmed the need for improvement of the sign-out process and 83% confirmed the need for face- to-face verbal sign-out. A system-based sign-out format was favored by fellows and advanced level practitioners while attendings preferred a problem-based format (p=0.003). Conclusions: We developed a valid and reliable survey to assess clinician perceptions about the ICU sign-out process. These results can be used to design a verbal template to improve and standardize the sign-out process.

Subject Area

Health care management

Recommended Citation

Bavare, Aarti C, "Development of a standard sign-out procedure for clinicians in a pediatric intensive care unit" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1515657.