Lost in translation: maximizing handover effectiveness between paramedics and receiving staff in the emergency department

Emerg Med Australas. 2009 Apr;21(2):102-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-6723.2009.01168.x.


Objective: The purpose of the present study is to investigate perceptions by paramedics and hospital receiving staff about what enables and constrains handover in the ED.

Methods: This is a qualitative study of interviews with 19 paramedics, 15 nurses and 16 doctors (n = 50) from ambulance services and ED in two states of Australia.

Results: Three main themes emerged that were evident at both sites and in the three professional groups. These were: difficulties in creating a shared cognitive picture, tensions between 'doing' and 'listening' and fragmenting communication.

Conclusion: Recommendations arising from the present study as to how handover could be improved are the need for a common language between paramedics and staff in the ED, for shared experiences and understanding between the members of the team and for the development of a standardized approach to handover from paramedics to ED receiving staff.

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel / organization & administration*
  • Australia
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Safety*