In this section
This guideline should be read in conjunction with the Clinical Handover procedure. The purpose of this guideline is to provide nurses across the campus with a structured approach for the safe communication of clinical handover.
Structured clinical handovers are effective in decreasing communication errors within healthcare and are linked to improved patient safety and quality of care. Clinical handover is particularly important during transitions of care when there is an increased risk of communication errors impacting patient care.
The involvement of patients and their families/carers in the paediatric setting during handover is an important tool to maintain communication and promote family cantered care. Effective communication of patients and their families/caregivers during care transitions has also been shown to enhance patient outcomes, reduce adverse events during care, and lower the rate of hospital readmissions (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Communication at Clinical handover).
To provide a framework for nursing clinical handover at the RCH.
Bedside handover individual patient handover that occurs at the patient’s bedside and includes patients and parents/ carers
Clinical Handover: Transfer of professional responsibility and accountability for some or all aspects of care for a patient, or group of patients, to another person / family / legal guardian or professional group on a temporary or permanent basis
Group handover may be facilitated as a large group with all nurses commencing the shift and/or within smaller groups of nurses working together in a pod
ISBAR: acronym that stands for Identification – Situation – Background – Assessment – Recommendation/Response. See
Clinical Handover Procedure for more information.
OILS: acronym that standardises checking IV orders, infusions, lines and securement. See
Policies and Procedures : Standardised checking procedure for infusion pump programming at the RCH
The Nurse Unit Manager’s (NUM) has responsibility for compliance with the clinical handover.
The operational leadership of handover and allocation of nurses to patients is usually the role of the Associate Unit Manager (AUM).
The NUM and/or AUM has the responsibility to ensure that the following principles are applied:
Parents/Carers’ and patients’ preferences to be involved in handover may change throughout admission. Nurses are to regularly discuss with parent/carer and/or patient how they would like to be involved in handover. For example, would they like to be woken up for handover?
Some children and young people may find handover distressing. Nurses are to work with families to identify the best option to suit them for handover. Nurses can invite parents/carers the opportunity to participate in handover outside of the room.
Considerations for conducting some elements of handover away from the bedside include:
Individual patient handover should also include the following, as appropriate:
The accepting of responsibility upon completion of handover is documented in EMR.
A brief clinical handover should also occur when the nurse with responsibility for the patient is leaving the clinical area or will be unavailable to provide clinical care for a short period of time, for example when having a break, collecting a patient from another ward etc.
A patient can be transported by CARPs, parents/ carers if the patient is assessed as:
Handover can be conducted over the phone to the receiving nurse, AUM, appropriate health practitioner who will then assume responsibility and accountability for the patient
Nurses who work autonomously, providing care in the community do not perform shift to shift handovers. Electronic handovers replace bedside handovers in this instance as follows:
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health care; Communicating for Safety Standard.
https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/standards/nsqhs-standards/communicating-safety-standard (accessed 20/01/2023)
Evidence table for Nursing Clinical Handover Nursing Guideline can be found here.
Please remember to read the
The revision of this nursing guideline was coordinated by Stacey Richards, CNC, Nursing Research, and approved by the Nursing Clinical Effectiveness Committee. Updated October 2023.