Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Transitions in patient care are held together by interdisciplinary handoff communications intended to coordinate the patient's ongoing care requirements. Patients with complexity in care encumber the transfer of care process requiring a higher level of care coordination between the interdisciplinary team (Coleman, 2003; Naylor et al., 2004). While the literature is abundant on the characteristics and quality of handoff communications, it is limited on the requirements of what data is necessary for ongoing care following transfer communications (Galatzan & Carrington, 2018). This dissertation explores the verbal information transferred during Operating Room (OR) to Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) nursing handoff communications and whether the data is captured in the electronic health record (EHR) to represent the information critical to ongoing patient care and care planning. the study builds on the Kennedy Integrated Theoretical Framework (KITF) (Kennedy, 2012) integrating cognition theory, patterns of knowledge theory, and clinical communication space theory to support the human-technology characteristics within perioperative handoffs. Evidence of wisdom was present in the KITF in addition to elements of non-verbal communication patterns emerging from shared common ground contributed to the framework's expansion. to understand the contributions of the perioperative nursing interface terminology, the Perioperative Nursing Data Set (PNDS), makes to postsurgical care transitions, the study examines nursing diagnoses, interventions, interim outcomes and goals relationships to the handoff data communicated between OR and PACU Registered Nurses. Study findings revealed a complex fragmented process of verbal communications and electronic documentation for the handoff process. While the EHR is prominent in data procurement for the handoff process, the design of handoff artifacts (e.g., paper, electronic) significantly impact the value of information received. Incomplete handoff tools or missing EHR data adds to a cycle of information decay while contributing to increase cognitive load and potentiating opportunities for information and knowledge loss. the absence of nursing diagnoses in the automation of the PNDS challenges the integrity of the language within the documentation platform and raises considerations for hierarchical representation within interface terminologies. This study reinforces literature to reconsider user requirements in the design and functionality of healthcare information technology (HIT) to enable data and information flow and preserve knowledge development. the inclusion of mobile technology, cognitive support aids including clinical decision support tools, and other HIT will further enable the effectiveness of transfer communication, knowledge development, and the safety of ongoing patient care.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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