Transition in care from paramedics to emergency department nurses: A systematic review protocol

Gudrun Reay, Jill M. Norris, K. Alix Hayden, Joanna Abraham, Katherine Yokom, Lorelli Nowell, Gerald C. Lazarenko, Eddy S. Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Effective and efficient transitions in care between emergency medical services (EMS) practitioners and emergency department (ED) nurses is vital as poor clinical transitions in care may place patients at increased risk for adverse events such as delay in treatment for time sensitive conditions (e.g., myocardial infarction) or worsening of status (e.g., sepsis). Such transitions in care are complex and prone to communication errors primarily caused by misunderstanding related to divergent professional perspectives leading to misunderstandings that are further susceptible to contextual factors and divergent professional lenses. In this systematic review, we aim to examine (1) factors that mitigate or improve transitions in care specifically from EMS practitioners to ED nurses, and (2) effectiveness of interventional strategies that lead to improvements in communication and fewer adverse events. Methods: We will search electronic databases (DARE, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, CINAHL, Joanna Briggs Institute EBP; Communication Abstracts); gray literature (gray literature databases, organization websites, querying experts in emergency medicine); and reference lists and conduct forward citation searches of included studies. All English-language primary studies will be eligible for inclusion if the study includes (1) EMS practitioners or ED nurses involved in transitions for arriving EMS patients; and (2) an intervention to improve transitions in care or description of factors that influence transitions in care (barriers/facilitators, perceptions, experiences, quality of information exchange). Two reviewers will independently screen titles/abstracts and full texts for inclusion and methodological quality. We will use narrative and thematic synthesis to integrate and explore relationships within the data. Should the data permit, a meta-analysis will be conducted. Discussion: This systematic review will help identify factors that influence communication between EMS and ED nurses during transitions in care, and identify interventional strategies that lead to improved communication and decrease in adverse events. The findings can be used to develop an evidence-informed transitions in care tool that ensures efficient transfer of accurate patient information, continuity of care, enhances patient safety, and avoids duplication of services. This review will also identify gaps in the existing literature to inform future research efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number260
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 19 2017


  • Emergency department triage
  • Emergency medical services
  • Handover
  • Paramedics
  • Systematic review
  • Transfer of care
  • Transition in care


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