Determining the opinions and importance of written handover for patient safety: a questionnaire based study.

Document Type : Original Article


1 Luton and Dunstable University Hospital Lewsey Road Luton LU4 0DZ

2 Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.


Handover is the communication of clinical information to support the transfer of patient care. It is a major contributing factor to patient safety. It can be provided verbally or in a written format. This study determines the opinions and importance of written handover for patient safety, postulating that it has a critical role in ensuring safety and has justification for implementation where not present.
An online questionnaire comprising of ten questions was sent to doctors in September 2014 at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital. Answers to questions were provided as a drop down menu with free text or as a single row rating scale. Data was exported onto, and analysed using statistical software. Frequency and percentage of answer choices were derived for each question.
The majority of respondents were Doctors of Consultant/Professor grade (51.3%). Those that did have written handover stated that it was accurate with regards to patient clinical details (45%) and that inaccurate handover does impede quality of care and clinical management (61.7%). Where not present, the majority of 28.3% of respondents strongly agreed that handover would improve patient safety and staff familiarity with patients.
Opinions from the study conducted suggest that written handover is a very powerful communication tool by which patient safety can be ensured. Implementation and maintenance of it locally and nationally is a possible logistical challenge. Further studies can be done in order to determine its effectiveness once standardised and implemented within this study location, and at other care units.