Cross-Cover Documentation: Multicenter Development of Assessment Tool for Quality Improvement

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Teaching and learning in medicine


Construct: We aimed to develop an assessment tool to measure the quality of electronic health record inpatient documentation of cross-cover events.

BACKGROUND: Cross-cover events occur in hospitalized patients when the primary team is absent. Documentation is critical for safe transitions of care. The quality of documentation for cross-cover events remains unknown, and no standardized tool exists for assessment.

APPROACH: We created an assessment tool for cross-cover note quality with content validation based on input from 15 experts. We measured interrater reliability of the tool and scored cross-cover note quality for hospitalized patients with overnight rapid response team activation on internal medicine services at 2 academic hospitals for 1 year. Patients with a code blue or a clinically insignificant event were excluded. The presence of a note, writer identity (resident or faculty), time from rapid response to documentation, note content (subjective and objective information, diagnosis, and plan), and patient outcomes were compared.

RESULTS: The instrument included 8 items to determine quality of cross-cover documentation: reason for physician notification, note written within 6 hours, subjective and objective patient information, diagnosis, treatment, level of care, and whether the attending physician was notified. The mean Cohen's kappa coefficient demonstrated good interrater agreement at 0.76. The instrument was scored in 222 patients with cross-cover notes. Notes documented by faculty scored higher in quality than residents (89% vs. 74% of 8 items present, p < .001). Cross-cover notes often lacked subjective information, diagnosis, and notification of attending, which was present in 60%, 62%, and 7% of notes, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: This study presents reliability evidence for an 8-item assessment tool to measure quality of documentation of cross-cover events and indicates improvement is needed for cross-cover education and safe transitions of care in acutely decompensating medical patients.

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ePub ahead of print