Pediatric clinical handover: a best practice implementation project

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Communication of information between and among healthcare providers is an essential element of patient care. Poor clinical handover has been associated with inaccurate clinical assessment and diagnosis, delays in diagnosis, medication errors and decreased patient satisfaction. Effective and efficient transition of patient care information requires an evidence-based handover approach.


The aim of this evidence implementation project was to make a contribution to promote evidence-based practice in clinical handover in a pediatric setting and thereby enhance patient safety and service delivery.


Seven criteria identified by the Joanna Briggs Institute were used to conduct an audit in the Gastroenterology Department, Children's Hospital of Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China. Twelve nurses and 260 handover sessions were involved. The JBI Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System and Getting Research into Practice audit tools for promoting change in health practice were used to ascertain compliance with the criteria before and after the implementation of best practice. The program included three phases and was conducted over six months.


There were improvements with compliance for each criterion. Face-to-face communication, standardized documentation, identification of patients, care plan handover and transfer of responsibility reached 100% compliance. Detailed observations of the patient improved from 93% to 98%, and there was an 18% improvement for relevant history handover.


This project has demonstrated that handover sessions can be more effective by translating evidence into practice through ongoing evidence-based audit. Nursing inter-shift handover requires the use of a highly valuable and important standardized tool. Further audits will need to be carried out in order to maintain the practice change, and ensure the sustainability of the project.

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