To describe and explore handoffs in community pharmacy.
Descriptive, exploratory, non-experimental study
Wisconsin, August – October, 2008
Brief, face-to-face, Semi-structured interviews
Main outcome Measure
Information on characteristics of handoffs, including the reasons for handoffs, what kind of information is shared during handoffs, and how information is shared.
The overarching reasons handoffs are done in community pharmacy are because some of the necessary information is confusing, contradictory, or absent, and/or the drug product is not in stock. Handoff information typically consists of a description of the problem, the current status of the problem, what information are still needed, and future steps to resolve the problem. Handoffs can occur synchronously during a shift change or asynchronously when one pharmacist signs out at the end of the day, and another pharmacist opens the pharmacy the next morning. While synchronous handoffs are generally verbal in nature, asynchronous handoff information is primarily conveyed via paper or electronic notes on the dispensing computer system.
Our results suggest that handoffs do take place in community pharmacies and that the process is unstructured and variable. Future studies should fully characterize this process and explore possible strategies for improvement.