In the recent patient safety literature, there is an increasing agreement that effective patient handover is critical to patient safety by ensuring appropriate coordination among health-care providers and continuity of care. It has repeatedly been pointed out that a lack of formal training and formal systems for patient handover impede the good practice necessary to maintain high standards of clinical care. Thus, patient handover has been defined a research priority for patient safety, and research in this field is increasing rapidly. In reviewing the current state of research and improvement, we identified key areas for future research. Despite the growing evidence at the descriptive level, future research will have to take a more systematic approach to establish valid measures of handover quality and safety, establish the causal effects of handover characteristics on safe care and identify best practices in safe handover and effective interventions within and across health-care settings.
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