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The importance of the verbal shift handover report: A multi-site case study

Randell, R., Wilson, S. & Woodward, P. (2011). The importance of the verbal shift handover report: A multi-site case study. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 80(11), pp. 803-812. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2011.08.006


Shift handover is seen as a key tool in ensuring continuity of care yet a number of studies have highlighted the role of shift handovers in adverse events. This, combined with the increased frequency of shift handovers, has led to interest in providing technological support for handover to enhance safety. The aim of this paper is to describe current practices for the conduct of shift handovers and to use this as a basis for considering the role that technology could play in supporting handover.

A multi-site case study of handover was conducted. Data included observations of 15 medical shift handovers and 33 nursing shift handovers across three case sites.

The findings highlight the way in which the verbal shift handover report is practically focused, displaying the healthcare professional's ability to know what information is required and where further explanation is needed. As well as supporting teaching and team cohesion, shift handover can provide an opportunity to reflect on the previous shift and for discussion with patients and their families.

The benefits provided by a face to face handover suggest that technology should focus on supporting rather than replacing the verbal shift handover report, providing a flexible solution that allows handover participants to gather more information as it is required.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in International Journal of Medical Informatics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MEDICAL INFORMATICS, VOL 80, ISSUE 11, 19th September 2011 DOI 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2011.08.006
Publisher Keywords: Handovers, Handoffs
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science > Human Computer Interaction Design
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