Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Maximising learning opportunities in handover

By R. E. Klaber and Colin F. Macdougall


Handing over responsibility for patients has always been part of medical practice. Definitions emphasise transfer of responsibility to ensure patient safety and the available literature tends to follow this line (see box 1). Handover is much more than this, however. It is a key event where teams meet, have the opportunity to communicate, support each other and learn. This paper considers different ways of maximising learning opportunities in handover, with particular emphasis on the strengths and challenges of the paediatric environment. Alongside review of the best available evidence, many of the ideas discussed were generated from working with a group of 65 experienced paediatricians with particular experience and interest in medical education as part of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Paediatric Educators Programme.\ud \ud Formal handover has increased in importance and been embedded in practice with the transition from “on-calls” to “full-shift” rotas in an effort to comply with the European Working Time Directive1 in the United Kingdom (UK). Departments responsible for acute patient care have had to incorporate two or three handover sessions into every day to ensure patient problems and management plans are appreciated by the incoming medical team

Topics: R1, RJ
Publisher: BMJ Group
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1992). A five-step ‘‘microskills’’ model of clinical teaching.
  2. (2006). A national survey of obstetric anaesthetic handovers. Anaesthesia doi
  3. A randomized, controlled trial evaluating the impact of a computerized rounding and sign-out system on continuity of care and resident work hours. doi
  4. (1993). Adult learning, adult teaching. 3rd edn. doi
  5. AndersonM.General paediatricclinicalhandover: passingthe baton or passing the buck? Arch Dis Child 2006;91(Suppl 1):A74–7.
  6. Assessment tools for foundation programmes—apracticalguide.BMJCareerFocus 2005;330:195–6.
  7. (2009). Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Clinical handover and patient safety doi
  8. (1984). Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. doi
  9. From medical student to junior doctor: the medical handover - a good habit to cultivate.
  10. Handoff strategies in settings with high consequences for failure: lessons for health care operations. doi
  11. (2007). Handover in the emergency department: deficiencies and adverse effects. Emerg Med Australas doi
  12. handover: safe patients. doi
  13. (2000). Health. A health service of all the talents: developing the NHS workforce: consultation document on the review of workforce planning. London: Department of Health,
  14. (2009). Health. European working time directive. doi
  15. (2009). Healthcare Improvement. SBAR technique for communication: a situational briefing model. See http://www.ihi. org/IHI/Topics/PatientSafety/SafetyGeneral/Tools/ SBARTechniqueforCommunicationASituationalBriefingModel.htm (accessed 2
  16. (2009). Hospitals NHS Trust. Risk Management annual report 2007. Available from www.bsuh.nhs.
  17. (1991). Keeping up to date - the educational prescription in clinical epidemiology. 2nd edn.
  18. (1997). On-the-job training for physicians: a practical guide. London: Royal Society of Medicine,
  19. Out-of-hours work: what is the training value for paediatric senior house officers? doi
  20. (2007). Patient handover from surgery to intensive care: using Formula 1 pit-stop and aviation models to improve safety and quality. Paediatr Anaesth doi
  21. (2007). Patient handover: time for a change? Accid Emerg Nurs doi
  22. (2009). practice in handover. doi
  23. (2001). PRISMS: new educational strategies for medical education. Med Educ doi
  24. (2009). Royal College of Physicians. Guidelines on effective patient handover for physicians. In: General professional training guide. London: Royal College of Physicians, 2005:25. See http://www. (accessed 2
  25. Senior house officers in medicine: postal survey of training and work experience. doi
  26. (2001). Sheffield Assessment Instrument for Letters (SAIL): performance assessment using outpatient letters. Med Educ doi
  27. Teaching when time is limited. doi
  28. (1996). The junior doctor handover: current practices and future expectations.
  29. The usefulness and feasibility of a reflexivity method to improve clinical handover. doi
  30. (2005). Time to hand over our old way of working? Hosp Med doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.