Care Delivery

The safe transfer of care is a vital component of the quality of care and safe practice (Pothier, Monteiro, Nooktlar et al, 2005).   Handovers have been identified as ‘error hotspots’.   All handovers may be error prone including those between individuals from the same or different professional groups, between departments and between sectors of care (Bruce Bayley, et al, 2005). When the process of handover is inadequately undertaken risks to the patient are increased and may subsequently lead to harm (BMA, 2005; Joint Commission, 2007). Patients are no longer cared for by just nurses and doctors; multiple healthcare professionals now contribute to the care of patients which increases the need for robust mechanisms for handover of care (RCN, 2008). BMA (2004) state Continuity of care now means team responsibility for care as well as individual responsibility.
Information regarding patients must be transferred from shift to shift to provide continuity and consistent patient care (Hoban, 2003). Handovers occur on all wards and have been described as a religious rite (Scovell, 2010). Currie (2002) identified one common feature of all handovers: the quality of the handover effects the provision of nursing care in the subsequent shift. Scovell (2010) argues that quality is important but there are unanswered questions about whether this involves the content or the structure of the handover and if there are any variables during the handover process that affect quality.
Best practice will be explored by reviewing literature regarding nursing handovers. There are three themes that have emerged; patient safety, patient confidentiality and patient participation for continuity of care. These themes will be explored to enable professional and managerial development in this area of care. The new found knowledge will be used in future and disseminated to colleagues and patients to ensure safe and effective nursing practice.

Patient Safety
The NMC (2008) urges nurses to work...