Clinical Handover: 3 experts share their advice on getting accredited for NSQHS Standard 6

Jun 14
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In the build up to the Strengthening Clinical Handover conference we’ve had three experts be kind enough to give us a small insight into some of the key questions that hospitals are asking when it comes to becoming successfully accredited for NSQHS Standard 6.

  • Chris May (Director of Emergency Medicine, Redland Hospital)
  • Katrina Lewis (Associate Director of Nursing, Practice Development,  Alfred Hospital)
  • Maree Johnson (Service Improvement Manager, Mater Health Services, Brisbane

With over 40 years worth of experience between the three of them, they all store a wealth of knowledge when it comes to clinical handover. View their full bios.

A bit of background to the Standard

Clinical communication problems are a major contributing factor in 70% of hospital incidents leading to an increased risk of adverse events. To minimise this risk was the introduction NSQHS Standard 6 – Clinical handover. With the second round of accreditations just around the corner for many, the time to make appropriate changes to get accredited is now.

What advice would you give organisations trying to get accredited for Standard 6 Clinical Handover?

Chris – “Establish a culture within the staff that clinical handover is the most important issue in the safe continuing care of their patients and follow the workbook.”

Maree – “Keep all your audit and evaluation documentation and show evidence that you have involved the patient in their handover.”

Katrina – “Consider sustainability measures from the outset”. This includes focusing on the “importance of staff engagement in any change process” and understanding the “Flexibility and adaptability of the guideline principles to each clinical context”. Secondly Katrina suggests that “monitoring and evaluation” is important when it comes to providing “feedback of audit data in a meaningful and timely way to local areas to inform improvements”.

For some, changes will be bigger than others when it comes to aligning operations correctly with NSQHS Standard 6. We want to help make the whole process easier. What are your two best bits of advice for anyone out there that is struggling with Standard 6? 

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Another article you might have missed but could be interested in…

Your 5 step guide to reducing clinical risks & getting accredited

Photo credit: e3Learning via photopin cc


Submitted by Criterion Content Team

Criterion Content Team

This post has been written by the Criterion Conferences Content Team. Based in Sydney, we are an independent research organisation, producing over 90 conferences a year across a variety of industries. Our events, attended by thousands of senior delegates from the public and private sector, are designed to enrich, inspire and motivate. Our focus is on providing innovative, value adding content via our conferences and blogs like this are extension of that principle. You can view our conferences by visiting our website

One thought on “Clinical Handover: 3 experts share their advice on getting accredited for NSQHS Standard 6

  1. Good read on Clinical Handover.
    I agree with Chris when he mentions ‘Establish a culture’ which easy to say but hard to implement, especially in the disciplines of ‘Medical officers’ and ‘Allied health’ which is still in the ‘developing space of meeting the ACHS Standards’ of clinical handover compared to nursing handover in majority of hospitals.
    I worked as a Project Officer for Medical Clinical Handover in a tertiary hospital. To establish the culture of handover, one needs to create the vision of ‘current state’ to ‘ destination state’.
    Clinical handovers have been taking place even before the standards came into place, only with the fact that most of them were verbal handovers. It sometimes gets hard, even though there is research published in the area that verbal handovers tend to lose information when passed from one person to another person. Harder to convince that there is an ‘issue’ in current state due to lack of ‘concrete’ data. Secondly if one wants to look at data for incidents on clinical incidents reporting systems, it is not easy to find the data. Literature states that only 20% of the incidents get reported on the system and only a meagre of 3-4% are documented by doctors. When it comes to handover, it gets even trickier as to report an issue due to handover, a doctor needs to move away from the patient bedside, log on the computer to document the incident. This might take a minimum of 3-5 minutes, whereas to rectify the issue, it might take 1-2 minutes in resolving it (Small issues not the major issues), since doctors are the best decision makers. This again leads to less documented incidents on clinical handover making it even harder to sell at times to doctors that there is an issue with handovers.
    Some strategic approach to tackling the issue would be:
    Create a Steering Committee with representatives across different level of doctors (Directors, consultants, registrars and representatives from SHO/JHO and interns). Try and keep even those who are not part of the committee in the loop when a major decision/progress is made eg. New procedure is developed, ensure it is circulated to all unit directors who are not on the committee, so that the changes/improvements are communicated throughout the organisation.
    To establish the culture and the change to permeate, one needs to communicate not just at the top level but also at the middle level and at the lower level.
    Eg: If one wants to introduce documented SBAR tool for handover, it won’t suffice just to get the nod of the committee members. It is in the interest of the committee to get the tool, but the same interests might not be shared by other members. Hence the change needs to be communicated to non-members. At times, even with enthusiastic unit directors who want to work in the space of clinical handover are sometimes caught with clinical priorities, are time poor and hence cannot dedicate the time to implement the changes. Organisation need to consider having resources/ personnel who can communicate the vision /changes to the registrars / SHO and interns. One needs to make an effort to either attend their unit meetings and explain to the doctors working at the ground level as to ‘why documented handover is important’. Unless and until it is explained, to them and understood by them, one is not bound to bring about that change and that culture of documented handover.
    Just thought of sharing some thoughts with the group.

    Vik Kalke
    Master of Health Services Management.

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