How to Give the Best Nursing Handoff at Shift Change

Posted by Kristen Salisbury on

  1. Start early: Begin preparing for handoff well before the shift change by reviewing the patients' medical records, care plans, and any significant events that occurred during the shift. I know some days it may be more difficult then others, and this may be impossible,  but as much as you can, that’s super helpful! 

  2. Communicate clearly: Use clear and concise language when communicating information about the patient's condition, treatments, medications, and any changes that have occurred during the shift. If you are using abbreviations, be sure the nurse understands what you are meaning. 

  3. Prioritize information: Prioritize the most critical information first, such as changes in the patient's condition, new orders or treatments, and any pending test results or consults. Or, if there was something you weren’t able to complete, please let the next nurse on shift aware. 

  4. Use a standardized format: Use a standardized format for handoff to ensure that all essential information is covered. One example is SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendations). Many nurses use a report sheet! I love these as I have my own and it’s my holy grail sheet. LOL! Find what works for you! 

  5. Confirm understanding: Confirm that the receiving nurse understands the information by asking questions and encouraging feedback. Please have open communication and make sure they have no further questions or concerns on what is happening with the patient. 

  6. Provide context: Provide context for the patient's care by sharing relevant information about their history, social situation, and preferences. Please do not include information about the patient that happened 20+ years ago only what’s relevant for their current stay at the hospital. 

  7. Follow up: Follow up with the receiving nurse after handoff to ensure that any outstanding issues have been addressed. Sometimes we end up forgetting something here and there, but make sure there isn’t anything else they need from you before you clock out! 

By following these tips, you can ensure that handoff at shift change is effective and efficient, and that patients receive safe and high-quality care.


PS. Be sure download the FREE downloads for the report sheet and SBAR sheet in the Nurse's Corner/downloads! 

 Comments?! Feedback?! Let me know! XOXO