Quality of the handover of patient care: a comparison of pre-Hospital and Emergency Department notes

Int Emerg Nurs. 2012 Jan;20(1):24-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2010.09.004. Epub 2010 Dec 28.


Aim: The aim of this audit was to evaluate the accuracy of patient information transfer from pre-hospital reports to Emergency Department (ED) documentation.

Methods: The records of 100 patients seen in the ED resuscitation room of a UK hospital were compared using a pro-forma designed by the research team. Sections of the ambulance service patient report form and the ED documentation were compared for differences. The history of the event leading to the 999 call, the patient's previous medical history, prescribed medications, allergies and any treatment carried out by the ambulance crew were analysed.

Results: Of the 100 records, 26 had at least one instance where information recorded by the ambulance crew was either omitted or altered during transfer. These fell into various categories including the previous medical history of the patient, the timings of the event bringing them to hospital, frequency of the event occurring, allergies and medications.

Conclusion: This audit quantifies the number of patient encounters where written information changes or is lost when care is passed from pre-hospital to hospital staff in the resuscitation room. We have not investigated other parts of the ED or the verbal transfer of information. Further work investigating the causes of these changes in information, any impact on patient care and whether this occurs in other parts of an ED is suggested.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Ambulances*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / standards*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care
  • United Kingdom