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“That's all I got handed over”

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 23 February 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:496
  1. Myooran Sithamparanathan, orthopaedic senior house officer (
  1. Basildon University Hospital, Essex

    T he introduction of the European Working Time Directive has led to many UK hospitals moving from the traditional “firm” based system of working in hospitals to a full or partial shift pattern. The feasibility of shift systems hinges on safe and effective clinical handover. However, little guidance or support for clinicians participating in handover has been issued. The Department of Health's evaluation report Hospital at Night (see highlights clinical handover as a “critical element of the model,” yet it recommends only that:

    • Medical and surgical handovers should be combined

    • It should be clear who is leading the handover

    • All team members should attend, and

    • Handover should take place in a dedicated room.

    Patients are bewildered by the number of times they have to explain the same things to different doctors

    The BMA paper Safe Handover: Safe Patients highlighted this potential problem in August 2004 and detailed a comprehensive plan of action to integrate safe handover into everyday working lives. Few of …

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