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Impact of a new electronic handover system in surgery.Accurate handover of clinical information is imperative to ensure continuity of patient care, patient safety and reduction in clinical errors. Verbal and paper-based handovers are common practice in many institutions but the potential for clinical errors and inefficiency is significant. We have recently introduced an electronic templated signout to improve clarity of transfer of patient details post-surgical take. The aim of this study was to prospectively audit the introduction of this new electronic handover in our hospital with particular emphasis regarding efficacy and efficiency. The primary surrogate chosen to assess efficacy and efficiency was length of stay for those patients admitted through the emergency department. To do this we compared two separate, two-week periods before and after the introduction of this new electronic signout format. Users were not informed of the study. Information recorded on the signout included details of the emergency admissions, consults received on call and any issues with regard to inpatients. ASA grade, time to first intervention and admission diagnosis were also recorded. Our results show that introduction of this electronic signout significantly reduced median length of stay from five to four days (P=0.047). No significant difference in ASA grades, time to first intervention or overall admission diagnosis was obtained between the two time periods. In conclusion, this is the first study to show that the introduction of electronic signout post-call was associated with a significant reduction in patient length of stay and provided better continuity of care than the previously used paper-based handover.