The New England Journal of Medicine reports:

Injuries due to medical errors are a major cause of death among Americans. Although some progress has been made in reducing certain types of adverse events, overall rates of errors remain extremely high. Failures of communication, including miscommunication during handoffs of patient care from one resident to another, are a leading cause of errors; such miscommunications contribute to two of every three “sentinel events,” the most serious events reported to the Joint Commission.5 The omission of critical information and the transfer of erroneous information during handoffs are common. As resident work hours have been reduced, handoffs between residents have increased in frequency.

Improving handoffs has become a priority in efforts to improve patient safety.