Aims: To evaluate the impact of a standardized inter-department nursing handover protocol from intensive care units to general wards on the nurses' perceptions and performance.
Methods: We developed an inter-department nursing handover protocol based on the situation, background, assessment and recommendation technique. All participating paediatric nurses were trained in this new protocol, which was then implemented for nine months in eight units of a children's hospital in the Republic of Korea. Data were extracted from a questionnaire and handover auditing using audio recording.
Results: Following the protocol's introduction, nurses' perceptions of handover effectiveness significantly improved (F = 5.17, p = .007), while their experience of handover errors significantly decreased (F = 12.85, p < .001). Furthermore, the prevalence of additive calls per handover decreased from 70.7% to 45.9% (χ2 = 9.88, p = .002), and the prevalence of handover-related errors decreased from 51.2% to 32.4% (χ2 = 5.63, p = .023). Handover accuracy significantly increased (t = -5.12, p < .001) without prolonging the handover duration.
Conclusions: The handover protocol positively influenced the nurses' perception of handover and clinical performance.
Implications for nursing management: A standardized inter-department handover helped intensive care unit nurses to improve their organisation and to provide ward nurses with sufficient information during handover, which could ensure safer transitions from intensive care units to wards.
Keywords: audit; evaluation; nursing; patient handoff; quality improvement.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.