JUNE 10-14, 2019   •  Las Vegas, NV
Navigating the Full Spectrum of Case Management • Mirage Convention Center

6007 – Emergency Department to the Community: Structured Hand-offs to the Primary Care Can Improve Patient Outcomes

6007 – Emergency Department to the Community: Structured Hand-offs to the Primary Care Can Improve Patient Outcomes

Handoff communication deficiencies between the emergency department (ED) and primary care in the community have been recognized as the result of delays and/or omissions in follow-up care for patients (Watkins & Patrician, 2014).  Fragmented communication can result in gaps in care that range from frustration to critical omissions that affect patient safety and health outcomes across the continuum (Bellew et al., 2017).  Utilizing an SBAR (Situation, Background, Actions, Recommendations) template to notify primary care providers of the results of emergency department visit along with the timely, accurate follow-up care that is needed will increase patient safety and satisfaction.

Emergency department case managers are in the unique position to lead the multidisciplinary care team in the development and implementation of reliable handoffs that will transfer critical care coordination information across all levels of healthcare.  The SBAR handoff format provides a familiar (and welcome)  opportunity for open lines of communication to be established between releasing providers and receiving providers in the community. Including the patient/family health goals in these handoffs also allows for patient-centered care across multiple settings.   Lessons learned from implementation of SBAR handoffs can include clinical, financial, and social outcomes along with staff satisfaction. 


Bellew, S., Martin, A., Wang, R., Bellolio, M. F., Walker, L., & Sunga, K. (2017). “What’s the next step?” Improving interfacility emergency department transfer handoff communication. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 35(8), 1194-1196.

Watkins, L. M., & Patrician, P. (2014). Handoff communication from the emergency department to primary care. Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal, 36, 44-51.

1) Identify and discuss gaps in care for emergency room patients who are discharged to the community, yet their primary care provider is not aware of the event or the patient’s needs

2) Discuss best practices along with the successful implementation of transition handoff from care management to community providers to improve patient outcomes across all levels of care

3) Explore the role of Emergency Department Case Managers in transition hand-off communication development, implementation, and documentation