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Why are hospital shift changes dangerous?

Shift changes happen regularly in hospitals, and these ‘changes of the guard’ can be dangerous. Shift changes have increased recently due to reductions in residency workload, a measure that is generally good, but that also means a greater number of people must discuss your care over the course of your hospital stay. Similar to what you might hear during a game of telephone, communication errors happen often during these stages in your care referred to as handoffs. During a shift change, the responsibility for your care is transferred from one care team to another. The fact that clinicians are tired after a long shift does not help make the process more reliable.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.