Clinical handover

Nurses carrying out clinical handover with patientWhat is clinical handover?

Clinical handover is the transfer of responsibility and accountability for some or all aspects of your care from one health care professional to another on a temporary or permanent basis.

During your stay in hospital, this could be from: 

  • one nurse to another nurse 
  • one doctor to another doctor 
  • an allied health professional (e.g. physiotherapists, occupational therapists etc) to another.

The aim of clinical handover is to achieve effective, high quality communication of relevant clinical information when the responsibility of your care is transferred.

Effective clinical handover helps promote patient safety and can reduce the likelihood of incorrect treatment, delays in diagnosis and a longer length of stay in hospital.

When does clinical handover occur?

Clinical handover between nursing staff takes place three times a day – once in the morning, afternoon and evening.

During this time, you will be introduced to your nurse for the next shift and your plan of care will be discussed. Nurses will also review your bedside notes and medication charts and check any drips, drains or wounds that you may have.

If you are in a shared room, any confidential aspects of your care can be discussed with your nurse outside the room prior to or after the handover process. Any non-urgent needs can be discussed with your nurse after each handover is completed.

You can choose to have a family member and/or carer to stay with you during a clinical handover. Other visitors will be asked to leave while we discuss your care.

Please note: the times and frequency for clinical handover amongst doctors and allied health professionals vary on a daily basis.