Measuring Potential Visual Exposure of Physicians During Shift-End Handoffs and Its Impact on Interruptions, Privacy, and Collaboration


Background:Frequent interruptions, inadequate privacy, and lack of collaboration are barriers to safe and efficient end-of-shift handoffs between emergency physicians. Varying levels of visibility to and from physicians can impact these outcomes. This study quantifies potential visual exposure of physicians in workstations with varying enclosure levels using isovist connectivity (IC) as a measure. Further, this study examines the association of IC with number of interruptions/hour, perceived collaboration, and privacy during handoffs.Methods:In-person observations were conducted during 60 handoffs to capture interruptions. Surveys were administered to the incoming and outgoing physicians to garner their perceptions of the extent of interruptions, collaboration, and privacy. Spatial analysis was conducted using DepthmapX.Results:Findings demonstrate significant differences in IC scores based on (a) physicians location within the workstation during; (b) handoff approach (individual or collaborative); (c) position during handoff (sitting or standing). Documented interruptions were highest in the high IC locations and lowest in the medium and low IC locations. Physicians in low IC locations perceived to have sufficient privacy to conduct handoffs.Limitations and Conclusion:It should be noted that the three pods, each housing a physician workstation with different enclosure levels, varied in number of patient rooms, patient acuity, overall size, and the location of workstations. While contextual variables were considered to the extent possible, several other factors could have resulted in differences in number of interruptions and collaboration levels. This study provides design recommendations for handoff locations and a method to test emergency physician workstation designs prior to construction.

Publication Date



figshare SAGE Publications



Document Type

Data Set



Embargo Date