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Safe Handover: Guidance from the Working Time Directive Working Party

Author: The Royal College of Surgeons of England
Year: 2007
Publisher: RCSENG - Professional Standards and Regulation


The introduction of full-shift working as a response to the progressive implementation of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) has put the spotlight on patient and doctor safety. Effective handover between shifts is vital to protect patient safety and assist doctors with clinical governance. Good handovers also provide an excellent training and review opportunity, and these must be maximised in a climate of shortened hours and streamlined training.

The transfer of a patient to the care of the oncoming team is the point at which the patient is most vulnerable on their journey through the health care system. Poor or incomplete information is often handed over with potentially disastrous consequences. Achieving an effective handover is the duty of every doctor. It is also a skill that needs to be taught, learned, practised and developed.