01.08 Giving Handoff Report

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Included In This Lesson

Study Tools



  1. Most critical communication
    1. Prevention of medical errors
  2. Shift change, department transfer, facility transfer
  3. Bedside handoff

Nursing Points


  1. Shift change bedside report
    1. Include family and patient in report
  2. SBAR
    1. Situation
    2. Background
    3. Assessment
      1. Head to Toe
    4. Recommendations
      1. What’s the plan?
  3. Open chart during report to correctly communicate
  4. Necessary details


In this lesson I am going to help you understand the best way to communicate during handoff report.
Shift reports and handoffs are critical communication times where patient safety and reducing any medical errors can really occur. This is literally one of the most critical conversations you will have with fellow nurses, the handoff. Good communication is really critical so let’s look at this process.

Giving handoff report is communication that is critical. This handoff report can be at shift change or with department transfers and even facility transfers. It is imperative that this communication is thorough and with the necessary details to limit communication errors. Let’s look at some pointers for this handoff and how to best do this.

Let’s look at some tactics first that are helpful in communication. A lot of facilities are going to bedside report and it really helps to incorporate the patient into their care and also allows them to be part of the communication and correct anything that is wrong to prevent errors. Have a plan. I mean a set order you report things so you don’t miss anything. So have it written. At the end of the shift you are tired and ready to go and have a lot of patients to report on and not get mixed up so develop your system. Open the chart! It is important because if there are orders that have been missed or medications overdue it can be caught during this communication and fixed. Just a few weeks ago two of the NICU nurses were giving report and realized that there had been a phototherapy order for a baby two days prior that had never been started. The other nurses hadn’t opened the chart during report to catch it and some of the nurses thought it was an old order because the baby had previously been on phototherapy. This delayed care and just the simple idea of opening the chart could have prevented this. So in report make sure to give all the important details. This brings us to our communication tool to use. And that is known as SBAR. Give the situation, background, assessment findings, and any recommendations or reminders. So as you have that chart open you can go through each. You said who the patient is,why they are there, background or history, your assessment findings to pass on and any recommendations or reminders. For example “don’t forget the labs due at 8pm” or “if the pain doesn’t improve maybe call the doctor and see what else could be ordered”.

Giving handoff report includes shift change and department transfer. Communication must be done well to prevent medical errors. Communication should include SBAR format and be done at the patient’s bedside.

Make sure you use SBAR when performing handoff and do bedside report to prevent medical errors. Now, go out and be your best selves today. And, as always, happy nursing.