A description of handover processes in an Australian public hospital

Aust Health Rev. 2005 Feb;29(1):68-79. doi: 10.1071/ah050068.


Handover of patient care has been an ongoing problem within the health care sector. The process remains highly variable and there is a threat to patient safety. Despite the general belief that handover transitions in patient care have become routine, not enough attention or research has been directed at improving this period of care. For this reason there is a need to provide an analysis of the communication processes during handover. A study was conducted of the handover process among doctors during shift changes within a hospital setting. The results suggested a need for process change. Results revealed a handover process which was unstructured, informal and error prone, with the majority of doctors noting that there was no standard or formal procedure for handover. The research found that the majority of hospital doctors recognised the potential benefits of formalising and computerising this process.

MeSH terms

  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Hospitals, Public / organization & administration
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Medical Audit*
  • Medical Records
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / standards*
  • New South Wales
  • Organizational Policy
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Safety Management