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Open Access Study protocol

A strategy to enhance the safety and efficiency of handovers of ICU patients: study protocol of the pICUp study

Nelleke van Sluisveld1*, Marieke Zegers1, Gert Westert1, Johannes Gerardus van der Hoeven2 and Hub Wollersheim13

Author Affiliations

1 Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare (IQ healthcare), Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, Nijmegen 6500 HB, The Netherlands

2 Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, Nijmegen 6500 HB, the Netherlands

3 Academic Center for Primary Care, Catholic University Leuven, Kapucijnenvoer, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium

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Implementation Science 2013, 8:67  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-67

Published: 14 June 2013

Abstract

Background

To use intensive care unit (ICU) facilities efficiently and ensure high quality of care, an optimal patient flow is necessary. Discharging patients relieves the pressure on ICU beds but the risk of premature discharge must be managed carefully. Suboptimal patient discharge may result in ICU readmissions and in patients’ death.

The aim of this study is to obtain insight into the safety and efficiency of current ICU discharge practices and into barriers and facilitators to the implementation of effective ICU discharge interventions, and to develop an implementation strategy tailored to the barriers and facilitators identified.

Methods/design

This study exists of five phases. Phase A: analysis of routinely registered data on variation in ICU readmissions and hospital mortality after ICU discharge of all ICUs participating in the Dutch National Intensive Care Evaluation registry (n = 83). Phase B: systematic review of effective interventions aiming to improve the efficiency and safety of the ICU discharge process. Phase C: assessing the intervention adherence with a questionnaire survey among all Dutch ICUs (n = 90). Phase D: assessing barriers and facilitators to the implementation of effective ICU discharge interventions with a questionnaire survey among all Dutch intensivists (n = 700). The questionnaire will be based on barriers and facilitators identified by focus groups (n = 4) and individual interviews with professionals of ICUs and general wards and adult discharged ICU patients (n = 25 to 30). Phase E: systematic development of an implementation strategy based on the sampled data in phase A to D, and effective implementation strategies from the literature using the intervention mapping method.

Discussion

Using theory and empirical data, an implementation strategy will be developed to improve the safety and efficiency of the ICU discharge process. The developed strategy will be evaluated in a subsequent study. The knowledge obtained in this study should be used for further implementation of ICU discharge interventions, and can be used for implementation of handover interventions in other healthcare transition settings.

Keywords:
Intensive care; Critical care; Patient safety; Quality of healthcare; Patient handoff; Patient readmission; Hospital mortality; Guideline adherence; Implementation