Does a multidisciplinary approach have a beneficial effect on the development of a structured patient handover process between acute surgical wards in one of Scotland's largest teaching hospitals?

Neil Ramsay (Lead / Corresponding author), Gianluca Maresca, Vicki Tully, Kevin Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Background: Effective handover is key in preventing harm. 1 In the Acute Surgical Receiving Unit of Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, large numbers of patients are transferred daily. However, lack of medical handover during transfer means important tasks are missed. Our aim was to understand and reflect on the current system and test changes to improve medical handover.

Aim: Our aim was to ensure that 95% of patients being transferred from the Acute Surgical Receiving Unit receive a basic medical handover within 2 months.

Methods: Initially, we collated issues that were missed when patients were transferred. These data coupled with questionnaire data from members of the team fed into the creation of a handover tool. We proposed to link our tool with the nursing handover, hence creating one unified handover tool. We completed six full Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles (two on communication to aide handover and four on the tool itself) to assess and develop our tool.

Results: By our final PDSA cycle, 84% (33/39) of the patients had a handover, meaning no tasks were missed during transfer. After 4 months, 9 out of 10 staff felt that the introduction of the handover sheet made the handover process smoother and 8 out of 10 felt that the handover sheet improved patient safety and quality of care.

Conclusions: Improving handover can be challenging. However, we have shown that a relatively simple intervention can help promote better practice. Challenges are still present as uptake was only 84%, so work still has to be done to improve this. A wider cultural change involving communication and education would be required to implement this tool more widely.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000154
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2018


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