Current efforts to improve nursing handover frequently use prescriptive approaches based on research evidence of handover issues within a single nursing ward or nursing specialty. Despite reported handover improvement, few studies adequately consider the transferability of results to other nursing handover environments or acknowledge the unique attributes that supported sustained improvement. With the increasing diffusion of electronic tools it has become even more critical to ensure that socio-technical issues that may impact on the quality and safety of nursing handovers are identified. This paper describes a qualitative research project that examined nursing handover in three different wards – General Medicine, General Surgery and Department of Emergency Medicine in a tertiary teaching hospital. Through conduct of a detailed analysis of nursing handover processes, this paper highlights the similarities and differences in the handover among the three different wards and presents five key socio-technical insights to support safe nursing handover.
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