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Nursing Research and Practice
Volume 2013, Article ID 305705, 8 pages
Research Article

Know Your Client and Know Your Team: A Complexity Inspired Approach to Understanding Safe Transitions in Care

School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen's University, Cataraqui Building, 92 Barrie Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6

Received 10 July 2013; Accepted 10 October 2013

Academic Editor: F. Beryl Pilkington

Copyright © 2013 Deborah Tregunno. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Transitions in care are one of the most important and challenging client safety issues in healthcare. This project was undertaken to gain insight into the practice setting realities for nurses and other health care providers as they manage increasingly complex care transitions across multiple settings. Methods. The Appreciative Inquiry approach was used to guide interviews with sixty-six healthcare providers from a variety of practice settings. Data was collected on participants’ experience of exceptional care transitions and opportunities for improving care transitions. Results. Nurses and other healthcare providers need to know three things to ensure safe care transitions: (1) know your client; (2) know your team on both sides of the transfer; and (3) know the resources your client needs and how to get them. Three themes describe successful care transitions, including flexible structures; independence and teamwork; and client and provider focus. Conclusion. Nurses often operate at the margins of acceptable performance, and flexibility with regulation and standards is often required in complex sociotechnical work like care transitions. Priority needs to be given to creating conditions where nurses and other healthcare providers are free to creatively engage and respond in ways that will optimize safe care transitions.