Clinical Handover

Clinical Handover is the "transfer of professional responsibility and accountability for some or all aspects of care for a patient or group of patients, to another person or professional group in a temporary or permanent basis” 1

Health care usually involves multiple health professionals over a variety of settings. A patient’s care journey may begin with their general practitioner and follow on to a medical specialist, hospital, and then home. At each transition of care, clinical handover should occur.

The Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) has taken a national and international lead in clinical handover improvement and provides key resources such as The OSSIE Guide to Clinical Handover Improvement to support this work.

The SA Health Clinical Handover Policy (PDF 159KB) and Clinical Handover Guidelines (PDF 158KB) sets the standard for clinical handover practice in SA Health. The policy requires the use of a standard mnemonic, ISBAR, to support safe practice of clinical handover.

The SA Health Clinical Handover Accreditation Resource (PDF 1018KB) has been developed to support Health Services and provides examples of South Australian tools and resources that can be used to demonstrate an action and standard has been met.

National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard 6 – Clinical Handover

The national standard describes systems for effective and structured clinical handover. Ensuring there is a timely, relevant and structured clinical handover that supports safe patient care. This includes:

  • Governance and leadership for effective clinical handover
    Health service organisations implement effective clinical handover systems.
  • Clinical handover processes
    Health service organisations have documented and structured clinical handover processes in place.
  • Patient and carer involvement in clinical handover
    Health service organisations establish mechanisms to include patients and carers in clinical handover processes.


TeamSTEPPS® is an evidence-based program to improve teamwork and communication for the purpose of improving patient safety. This program is being implemented state-wide.

Information for consumers

Information for consumers on TeamSTEPPS®


To assist health care providers, SA Health has developed policies, guidelines and tools in the areas below:

iPhone/iPad ISBAR application

South Australian Department of Health and Ageing and New South Wales Health have collaborated to develop the ISBAR iPhone/iPad application. The app is designed to provide clinical handover prompts for a variety of clinical handovers and allows free form input to enable clinicians to develop individual handover prompts for other specialties. No patient information is stored in the app, rather it provides a guide to help ensure that essential information is not missed, supporting continuity of care and error prevention. 

National resources

The OSSIE Guide to Clinical Handover Improvement

Committees / reports

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality

TeamSTEPPS® – Implementation of a teamwork programme into an Australian Setting Public Report on Pilot Study May 2009 Updated: January 20, 2012

Clinical Handover Literature Review

Education and training

Clinical Handover Education

“Know the Plan, Share the Plan, Review the Risk” is an educational film developed by SA Health in partnership with New South Wales Health for the purpose of training clinical staff in best practice clinical handover. This clinical handover DVD follows a patient’s journey of care from home to rural emergency department via ambulance, to metro hospital, from recovery to ward, and then transfer back to country hospital for rehabilitation. To see the Introduction or the six video vignettes of clinical handover in the patient’s journey of care, go to the Clinical Handover tool “Know the Plan, Share the Plan, Review the Risk” page

Teamwork and communication training

Training for this program is offered to health services. Advance registration of interest and a selection process is required.

For more information please contact


Christy Pirone
Principal Consultant
(08) 8226 6304


1 Australian Medical Association, 2006, Safe Handover:Safe Patients, Guidance for Clinical Handover for Clinicians and Managers (adapted from the British Medical Association’s resource: Safe Handover:Safe Patients)

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