Improving the quality of weekend medical handover on non-receiving medical hospital wards

Ruairidh Nicoll, Mark White, Luis Loureiro Harrison, Ruth L. M. Cordiner, Malcolm Daniel, Brian Choo-Kang, James G. Boyle (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Introduction: Handover is the system by which the responsibility for immediate and ongoing care is transferred between healthcare professionals and can be an area of risk. The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has recommended improvement and standardisation of handover. Locally, national training surveys have reported poor feedback regarding handover at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Aim: To improve and standardise handover from weekday to weekend teams.

Methods: The Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) quality improvement framework was used. Interventions were derived from a driver diagram after consultation with relevant stakeholders. Four PDSA cycles were completed over a 4-month period:PDSA cycle 1-Introduction of standardised paper form on three wards.PDSA cycle 2-Introduction of electronic handover system on three wards.PDSA cycle 3-Expansion of electronic handover to seven wards.PDSA cycle 4-Expansion of electronic handover to all non-receiving medical wards.The outcome of interest was the percentage of patients with full information handed over based on a six-point scale derived from the RCP. Data were collected weekly throughout the study period.

Results: 18 data collection exercises were performed including 525 patients. During the initial phase there was an improvement in handover quality with 0/28 (0%) at baseline having all six points completed compared with 13/48 (27%) with standardised paper form and 21/42 (50%) with the electronic system (p<0.001). When the electronic handover form was expanded to all wards, the increased quality was maintained, however, to a lesser extent compared with the initial wards.

Conclusion: A standardised electronic handover system was successfully introduced to downstream medical wards over a short time period. This led to an in improvement in the quality of handover in the initial wards involved. When expanded to a greater number of wards there was still an improvement in quality but to a lesser degree.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000991
Number of pages6
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number4
Early online date17 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2021


  • continuity of patient care
  • hospital medicine
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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