Nurses exchange information between incoming and outgoing nurses at least three times a day.

The name of this exchange varies but it means the same thing.

It can be handover, hand off or bed side shift report.

It is done at a change of shift and sometimes on an ad hoc basis.

A literature review by Boryana Dorvil has identified four main types of handover.

There is 

  1. verbal face-to-face report in a private setting
  2. a written report
  3. a tape-recorded report and
  4. face-to-face bedside handover.

We will leave aside the larger all-staff handover that also occurs.

Each handover has its pros and cons.

The written report lacks vital interaction between the incoming and outgoing nurses.

As does the tape-recorded report.

But the problems with them is clear.

There is an inability to clarify information and the facts may be outdated or misheard.

Verbal face to face reporting overcomes this problem but doesn’t involve patients or their family members.

It is more time consuming but that is the price that has to be paid for an accurate and meaningful handover.

The only method that involves everyone is the face-to-face bedside handover.

There are two different ways that this can be conducted.

It can be either blended or totally at the bedside.

Dorvil says 

“The “blended” bedside shift report can be defined as a nursing handoff composed of two parts: Half of the report is written or conducted in a face-to-face approach in a private setting and the other half of the report is conducted face-to-face at the patient’s bedside. The face-to- face nurse bedside shift report is solely conducted at the patient’s bedside.”

Interestingly, only 2 per cent of the studies identified patient complaints about this practice.

But the majority of the studies had a low sample size or used indirect measures for evaluating the patient experience so this needs to be taken into account in evaluating this practice.

Patients did report some disadvantages with a bedside report.

They were difficulties in understanding the report and the jargon, tiredness as a result of repeated information, lack of privacy, anxiety about incorrect information and inconsistency.

To learn more about handover,

Dorvil B. 2018 The secrets to successful nurse bedside shift report implementation and sustainability. Nursing Management. doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000533770.12758.44