Clinical handover

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.

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.

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.

Policy and guideline

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

National standards and accreditation

The National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard 6 – Clinical Handover 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 - implement effective clinical handover systems.
  • clinical handover processes - have documented and structured clinical handover processes in place
  • patient and carer involvement in clinical handover - establish mechanisms to include patients and carers in clinical handover processes.

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.

To learn more about the ten Nation Standards see our National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards page.

Education and training

Clinical Handover Education

The “Know the Plan, Share the Plan, Review the Risk” is a series of six videos developed for the purpose of training staff in best practice clinical handover. This series 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.

TeamSTEPPS® 2.0 AU

TeamSTEPPS® 2.0 AU is an evidence-based program to improve teamwork and communication for the purpose of improving patient safety.


Safety and Quality
Telephone: (08) 8226 6539

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