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Emerg Med Australas. 2009 Apr;21(2):102-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-6723.2009.01168.x.

Lost in translation: maximizing handover effectiveness between paramedics and receiving staff in the emergency department.

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Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia.



The purpose of the present study is to investigate perceptions by paramedics and hospital receiving staff about what enables and constrains handover in the ED.


This is a qualitative study of interviews with 19 paramedics, 15 nurses and 16 doctors (n = 50) from ambulance services and ED in two states of Australia.


Three main themes emerged that were evident at both sites and in the three professional groups. These were: difficulties in creating a shared cognitive picture, tensions between 'doing' and 'listening' and fragmenting communication.


Recommendations arising from the present study as to how handover could be improved are the need for a common language between paramedics and staff in the ED, for shared experiences and understanding between the members of the team and for the development of a standardized approach to handover from paramedics to ED receiving staff.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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