From medical student to junior doctor: The medical handover - a good habit to cultivate
The art of effective handover is a neglected topic in medical school. Richard Beasley and colleagues explain the importance of best practice when exchanging information between healthcare professionals, in the eighth article of our series
Junior doctors working in hospital medicine participate in the handover ritual most days of their working lives. Surprisingly then, this important area of medical practice receives almost no attention in the formal medical curriculum. However, with the introduction of the European Working Time Directive and the subsequent move towards shift work for junior doctors, attention has focused on the importance of communication in ensuring continuity of care.1 Handover practice has rightly been identified as a key area and has been the subject of three major reports published by healthcare regulators in the United Kingdom and Australia (see box). It is therefore timely to review what constitutes a good handover and to offer some practical suggestions on best practice.
The term handover is used to describe a variety of exchanges of information between healthcare professionals: the formal team meeting, usually held in the morning, where the night staff hand over to