Interruptions during handover may compromise continuity of care and patient safety.
Interruptions occur frequently during handovers in the intensive care unit.
A quality improvement study was undertaken to improve nursing team leader handover processes. The frequency, source, and reason interruptions occurred were recorded before and after a handover intervention.
The intervention involved relocating handover from the desk to bedside and using a printed version of an evidence-based electronic minimum data set. These strategies were supported by education, champions, reminders, and audit and feedback.
Forty handovers were audiotaped before, and 49 were observed 3 months following the intervention. Sixty-four interruptions occurred before and 52 after the intervention, but this difference was not statistically significant. Team leaders were frequently interrupted by nurses discussing personal or work-specific matters before and after the intervention.
Further work is required to reduce interruptions that do not benefit patient care.