BMC Med Educ. 2020 Dec 3;20(Suppl 2):459. doi: 10.1186/s12909-020-02285-0.
Clinical handover is one of the most critical steps in a patient's journey and is a core skill that needs to be taught to health professional students and junior clinicians. Performed well, clinical handover should ensure that lapses in continuity of patient care, errors and harm are reduced in the hospital or community setting. Handover, however, is often poorly performed, with critical detail being omitted and irrelevant detail included. Evidence suggests that the use of a structured, standardised framework for handover, such as ISBAR, improves patient outcomes. The ISBAR (Introduction, Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) framework, endorsed by the World Health Organisation, provides a standardised approach to communication which can be used in any situation. In the complex clinical environment of healthcare today, ISBAR is suited to a wide range of clinical contexts, and works best when all parties are trained in using the same framework. It is essential that healthcare leaders and professionals from across the health disciplines work together to ensure good clinical handover practices are developed and maintained. Organisations, including universities and hospitals, need to invest in the education and training of health professional students and health professionals to ensure good quality handover practice. Using ISBAR as a framework, the purpose of this paper is to highlight key elements of effective clinical handover, and to explore teaching techniques that aim to ensure the framework is embedded in practice effectively.