Objective To determine whether intraoperative handover of patient care from one anaesthesia clinician to another was associated with an increased risk of adverse postoperative outcomes during paediatric surgeries. Design, setting and participants A retrospective, population-based cohort study (1 April 2013-1 June 2018) at an academic medical centre. Exposure Intraoperative handover of care between pairs of anaesthesia clinicians from one care provider to another compared with no handover of anaesthesia care. Main outcomes and measures The primary outcome was a composite of all-cause mortality and major postoperative morbidity within 30 days after surgery. Secondary outcomes included individual components of the primary outcome and 30-day hospital readmission. Inverse probability of exposure weighting using propensity scores for intraoperative handovers was calculated. Weighted logistic regression was used to determine the association between intraoperative anaesthesia handovers and outcomes. Results 78 321 paediatric surgical cases (n=5411 with handovers) were included for analysis. Patients were predominantly male (56.5%) with a median age of 6.56 (IQR: 2.65-12.53) years and a median anaesthesia duration of 76 (IQR: 55-126) min. In the weighted sample, the odds of the primary outcome (OR: 0.92; 95% CI 0.75 to 1.13; p=0.43), any morbidity (OR: 0.93; 95% CI 0.75 to 1.16; p=0.515), all-cause mortality (OR: 0.8; 95% CI 0.37 to 1.73; p=0.565) or 30-day readmission following surgery (OR: 0.99; 95% CI 0.84 to 1.18; p=0.95) did not significantly differ among surgeries with and without handovers. Conclusions Among paediatric patients undergoing surgery, intraoperative anaesthesia handovers were not associated with adverse postoperative outcomes, after accounting for relevant covariates. These findings provide a preliminary perspective on the role of intraoperative handovers as a care-neutral event, with implications for improving safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-763
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Quality and Safety
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Intraoperative handovers
  • handoffs
  • paediatric
  • postoperative outcomes
  • safety
  • surgery
  • transition of care


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