Aims and objectives: This article reviews the available literature that supports implementing bedside clinical handover in nursing clinical practice and then seeks to identify key issues if any.
Background: Clinical handover practices are recognised as being an essential component in the effective transfer of clinical care between health practitioners. It is recognised that the point where a patient is 'handed over' from one clinician to another is significant in maintaining continuity of care and that doing this poorly can have significant safety issues for the patient.
Design: An integrated literature review.
Method: A literature review of 45 articles was undertaken to understand bedside clinical handover and the issues related to the implementation of this process.
Results: It was identified that there are a number of clinical handover mnemonics available that provide structure to the process and that areas such as confidentiality, inclusion of the patient/carer and involving the multidisciplinary team remain topical issues for practitioners in implementing good clinical handover practices.
Conclusions: This literature review identified a lack of literature available about the transfer of responsibility and accountability during clinical handover and auditing practices of the clinical handover process. The nurses were more concerned about confidentiality issues than were patients. The use of a structured tool was strongly supported; however, no one singular tool was considered suitable for all clinical areas.
Relevance to clinical practice: Nursing clinicians seeking to implement best practice within their professional speciality should consider some of the issues raised within this article and seek to address these issues by developing strategies to overcome them.
Keywords: auditing; clinical handover; communication tool; nursing, confidentiality; patient safety.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.