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Handover in psychiatric settings: is change needed?

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Research Unit, Sydney South West Area Mental Health Service, New South Wales, Australia.


Handover is a tradition in mental health settings and can occupy a significant amount of time each day, yet the topic has commanded limited attention in the psychiatric literature. Increasing staff changes and growing reliance on casual staff has heightened the need for the effective and efficient transfer of essential information, as staff will often find themselves in settings with unfamiliar patients. In this context, effective and timely handovers are crucial. The aim of this article is to examine handover and consider how it may be used optimally to enhance service delivery. To reduce information loss and increase accuracy, verbal handover could be supplemented with computer-generated patient data. This combination will ensure face-to-face interaction remains and perhaps decrease time spent unproductively. Further research is necessary to evaluate such a handover system.

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