HUP SICU clinicians discuss patient care.

HUP SICU clinicians discuss patient care.


This is an ongoing study to improve handoffs from the OR to the ICU at Penn Presbyterian and at HUP. We will first conduct a handoff needs assessment. Based on the assessment we will adapt published handoff tools and processes (published by other investigators) to improve peri-procedural communication for patients requiring critical care.


Study goals

Just like a "hat trick" in sports, HATRICC has 3 goals:

1. Understand current critical care handoff practices
2. Develop best practices for critical care handoffs
3. Implement handoff improvement interventions

What does the study involve?

The assessment will involve handoff observations and implementation of a standard handoff procedure. The study will also involve focus groups, interviews and surveys of front-line clinicians to discuss their handoff experiences and preferences, and in-situ simulation of a standardized handoff process.

Schematic of study procedures

Schematic of study procedures

Importance of OR to ICU handoffs

A patient’s transfer from the OR to the ICU is a transition during which information can easily be lost or distorted, leading to errors and preventable harm. There are studies to support handoff standardization through the use of checklist and/or algorithms in the cardiac OR to the cardiac ICU, especially for pediatric patients.  We are working to figure out how to implement a similar process for mixed surgical populations.

Conceptual model underpinning study design.


The study started in July 2014. The study is using an “opt out” approach for observations, and an “opt in” approach for interviews and focus groups. Focus groups, interviews and simulation sessions will occur during non-clinical duties, and participants will be compensated for their time.

Once we have completed our observations and interpretation, we plan to customize published tools and processes to standardize OR to ICU handoffs. We will solicit provider input in this process to ensure that we meet the needs of each unit.

Information regarding the study will be disseminated in several ways: postings in the ICU, announcements in educational conferences, and e-mails to clinical staff.