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Keywords:

  • bedside handover;
  • clinical handover;
  • continuity of patient care;
  • nursing handover;
  • patient safety

Clinical handover is critical to clinical decision-making and the provision of safe, high quality, continuing care. Incomplete and inaccurate transfer of information can result in poor outcomes. To assess the content and completeness of the intensive care unit nursing shift-to-shift handover, a prospective, observational study design was used. A semistructured observation sheet based on 10 key principles for handover was used to overtly observe 20 bedside nursing handovers. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data. Overall, the content handed over was consistent with the key principles of clinical handover. However, there were some key principles that were minimally addressed or absent from clinical handovers. Development and implementation of a handover tool specific to intensive care will assist in ensuring that all key principles are adhered to so that adverse events associated with miscommunication during clinical handover are reduced and a high standard of care is maintained.