In many healthcare services, care is provided continuously, however, the care providers, e.g., doctors and nurses, work in shifts that are discrete. Hence, hand-offs between care providers is inevitable. Hand-offs are generally thought to effect patient care, although it is often hard to quantify the effects due to reverse causal effects between patients’ duration of stay and the number of hand-off events. We use a natural randomized control experiment, induced by physicians’ schedules, in teaching general medicine teams. We employ statistical tools to show that between the two randomly assigned groups of patients, a subset who experiences hand-off experience a different length of stay compared to the other group.

This work was performed with the MIT/MGH Collaboration.