Determination of Opinions Regarding Written Handover and Its Importance for Patient Safety: A Questionnaire-Based Study

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.

Abstract

Introduction: Handover is the communication of clinical information to support the transfer of patient care and is a major contributing factor to patient safety. Handovers can be provided verbally or in a written format. This study aimed to determine the opinions regarding written handover and its importance, postulating that it has a critical role in ensuring patient safety and has justification for implementation where not present.

Materials and Methods: An observational online questionnaire comprising ten questions was sent to doctors at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital in September 2014. Answers to the questions were provided as free text or single row rating scale in a drop-down menu. The data were exported into SPSS to be analysed. Frequency and percentage of the answer choices were derived for each question.

Results:The majority of respondents were physicians (51.3%). Those who had written handover stated that it was accurate with regards to patients’ clinical details (45%) and that inaccurate handover impedes quality of care and clinical management (61.7%). In cases where patient handover was not present, 28.3% of the respondents strongly agreed that handover could improve patient safety and staff familiarity with patients.

Conclusion: The results suggest that written handover is a very powerful communication tool through which patient safety can be ensured, and its local and national implementation and maintenance are a possible logistical challenge. It is recommended to conduct further studies on this issue to determine its effectiveness once standardised and implemented within this study location, and at other care units.

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