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Quality of Communication: Paging System Use in the Smartphone Era

Background: Paging-systems (PS) are important means of communication between providers. PS may provide only limited information, and quality of communication (QOC) may be suboptimal. To investigate QOC using PS at a general surgery residency program.

Methods: 7 surgical services pagers records were obtained from communication department over 24 hour in 2017. In addition to frequency, pages were evaluated for 5-quality metrics: paging party, callback number, urgency, reason for page, and patient identifiers. A survey was distributed to general surgery residents evaluating their perception of QOC.

Results: 126 pages were captured over 24 hours (61% am-shift, 39% pm-shift). Thirty-two% contained only a callback number, and 20% contained all 5-components. Fifty-one% were from patient wards, 28% consultants, and 21% peri-operative services. 97% did not include urgency, and 39% reason for page. Median components was 3, with consultants having an OR=6; [CI95%:1.9-18.2] (p<0.01) to page at least median number of components. There was no significant difference between am and pm-shifts. 48% felt that minimum components should be 5, none believed callback only is adequate or would relate to emergent/ urgent matters, only rarely/occasionally they did receive their set minimum or ≥ 3 required components, and despite returning callback number pages immediately, 21% would not wait>1 min on-hold. Majority agreed that callback only may lead to loss of time and felt that standardizing paging can improve communication.

Conclusion: The PS is still relevant in a hospital setting. Many pages could be improved to facilitate efficient communication to surgery residents. Residents feel strongly that there is room to improve QOC between providers. Despite relevance of PS, updating the system is necessary to improve inter-professional communication.


Ali Khalifeh

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