Objectives and Background Ongoing patient management in the Emergency Department involves the handing over of patients between medical and nursing staff. Ideally, this should enable the receiving staff to be as well informed as their predecessors to ensure optimal patient care. In practice this has been found to be one of the most dangerous aspects of shift working patterns. Handovers are highly variable and often perceived to be diverting attention from seeing patients, rather than an essential part of their care.
Methods I have designed a more formal written handover tool to enable a one-to-one written, sit-down handover. The aim of this is to ensure that routine investigations carried out are appropriately checked and that the new doctor knows exactly what is left to chase up. The idea is that both doctors sign the bottom of the handover sheet and this is used as part of the notes to show it took place.
Results I have been successfully trialling this in Poole Hospital Emergency Departmen, Dorset.
Conclusions I feel that robust handover systems such as this need to be instigated more rigorously in order to prevent latent errors that may occur due to lack of continuity of care.
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