Handover is defined as the communication of information between healthcare providers to support the transfer of patient care and maintain professional responsibility and accountability. Handover has been identified as a time in which errors are likely to occur. Absent or poor handovers have been shown to be an important preventable cause of patient harm, and are primarily due to poor communication and system error. These can lead to delayed decisions, repeat investigations, inaccurate diagnoses, wrong treatment, and poor communication with patients.
Handover is required in multiple different situations throughout the hospital. Handover should occur between ED physicians at the end of a shift , from ED physician to admitting physician/specialist, from physicians when starting or finishing call, or when transferring MRP from one specialty service to another. In some areas of our hospital a formal process for handover occurs while in others, more work needs to be done.
There has been some increasing attention in the literature regarding improving handover by optimizing the handover process and utilizing a standardized communication tool. I would be interested in the experience of the MHCD class in ensuring that timely, effective handover occurs in their institutions.