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Journal Article


Powell M, Brown D, Davis C, Walsham J, Calleja P, Nielsen S, Mitchell M. Aust. Crit. Care 2020; ePub(ePub): ePub.


Intensive Care Unit, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Australia; School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


(Copyright © 2020, Confederation of Australian Critical Care Nurses, Publisher Elsevier Publishing)






Poor-quality patient handover leads to adverse patient outcomes. Consequently, handover has been identified as a national and international priority for preventing patient harm. Risks are exacerbated during transfers of trauma intensive care unit (ICU) patients to a ward because of the complexity of their injuries coupled with a de-escalation in care and monitoring. This study assessed current handover practices for ICU trauma patients, identifying barriers and facilitators to best practice handover. A multimethod design was used, including naturalistic observations of clinical handover of trauma patients transferred to a ward and semistructured interviews with both the ICU and ward nurses caring for the trauma patient. The study was conducted at an Australian metropolitan public adult teaching hospital ICU. Purposive maximal sampling of patient handover opportunities was sought. Recruitment continued until data saturation was reached using thematic analysis. Ten ICU and ward nurses were recruited, with 10 observations of handover and 20 interviews conducted. Observations of the handovers identified multiple issues, including deficits and discrepancies in the information communicated that could impact patient safety, variable handover processes, and poor patient and family involvement. Interviews elicited two major themes around the handover: practices and processes. Nurses identified that interruptions, time, and workload pressures presented barriers to handover, whilst teamwork, using a structured and systematic approach, preparation time for handover, and communication before transfer facilitated effective handover and transfer. Nurses suggested a structured tool to aid handover. This study identified clinically significant deficits and discrepancies in the information communicated to the ward nurses. Nurses identified that interruptions, time, and workload pressures presented barriers to effective handover. Teamwork where preparation and the handover event are prioritised over other activities is needed. A minimum data set for handover in conjunction with patients and family members is recommended.

Copyright © 2020 Australian College of Critical Care Nurses Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Language: en


Clinical handover; Communication; Discharge; Intensive care; Nursing; Patient safety; Patient/family centered care; Transfer; Trauma


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