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Communicating for safety: Effective clinical handover

CPD Hours



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Law, ethics and professional responsibilities
Managing people and resources
Clinical practice and procedures


Clinical handover is about the transferring of all, or part, of a patient’s care between healthcare providers. It is a high risk activity as there is an increased risk of communication errors at these times. For this reason, it is a key aspect of the Australian National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard Six: Communicating for Safety.

Clinical handover occurs many more times a day than at change of shifts. It occurs as patients deteriorate, transfer between units, transfers for tests and imaging, and for many other reasons.
For the patient, each time clinical information is handed over, there is an associated risk. With every subsequent handover, risk multiplies and the associated patient safety risk and potential for adverse outcomes multiplies.

Developing effective clinical handover skills is essential for all nurses and midwives. It is an essential element of professional responsibility and duty of care.
This course provides instruction on the elements required for effective clinical handover and how to put the principles into practice.

Effective clinical handover is an essential element of two national standards:

  1. The National Safety and Quality in Health Care Standards, Standard 6: Communicating for Safety.
  2. The Aged Care Quality Standards, Standard 3: Personal care and clinical care.

It is essential learning for all healthcare workers.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Know what key principles to apply for an effective clinical handover.
  • Know when an effective clinical handover is required.
  • Know what the ISBAR and ISoBAR frameworks for communication are and how to use them effectively.
  • Know the essential elements of an effective clinical handover.
  • Understand the various roles and responsibilities for clinical handover.
  • Know the most effective methods for clinical handover.
  • Understand how to provide an effective clinical handover.
  • Be able to identify barriers to effective clinical handover.

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