To ensure the best care for the patient there needs to be a smooth “baton pass” between nursing shifts. Although it may be tempting to rush through this routine duty, patient safety hinges on a complete and correct exchange of information. Shift reports have the potential to be nurse-task focused instead of patient-focused. Research has shown that involving the patient and/or their family in this process by conducting the “patient handover” by the bedside has improved this communication and patient satisfaction.
Bedside handover requires nurses to exchange pertinent patient information such as clinical conditions, allergies and care plans with the patient in his or her room. By taking the handover to the patient, nurses and patients see each other sooner. Bedside handover also allows patients to ask questions and clarify information with both nurses — which can relieve anxiety and get them involved them in their care.
Bedside handover is more efficient and effective from a nursing perspective too. Being in the patient’s room allows the incoming nurse to assess patients directly and to identify the priority needs of their unit more quickly and accurately. It increases nurse to nurse accountability and allows for a complete description and sharing of the patient’s status as a whole and can improve patient safety. It can help more experienced nurses to act as role models to less experienced nurses and can enable tasks that can be difficult to accomplish alone to be done during the handover.
Bedside handover creates an opportunity for nurses to collaborate. It is being reviewed and studied and is a trend that is gaining traction – some even speculate this is will be a best practice guideline by the Joint Commission in the near future.