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Handoffs and Communication: The Underappreciated Roles of Situational Awareness and Inattentional Blindness


Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology: September 2010 - Volume 53 - Issue 3 - p 545-558
doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e3181ec1ac7
Medical Errors And Safety Systems

We are all “hard wired” to have limited ability to quickly and accurately communicate and work with each other. These limitations are especially acute in our urgent, stressful, and interruption-filled world. New views on these limitations include phenomena-like situational awareness and inattentional blindness. Development and testing of communication tools and interventions to improve communication and handoffs has undergone some research evaluation, but is mainly evidence-guided. Understanding human limitations in ability to communicate will help us create, test, and continually judge communication tools, especially automation and team training.

University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Correspondence: John Gosbee, MD, MS, 1500 E. Medical Center Drive, Med Inn Building C201, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.