The Australian Government has launched new guidelines for clinical handover in the state of New South Wales to improve patient safety in hospitals.

Clinical handover refers to the exchange of patient information at the change of shifts as well as when patients are transferred to another ward or hospital, or from hospitals to GPs or community care.

The new mandatory policy requires clinicians to conduct at least part of a handover at the patient’s bedside and allocate sufficient time for the handover, the government said.

Specific patient information should be conveyed and a written or electronic record be made of the handover, the government said.

Standardisation of the handover proceedure will result in effective, concise and complete communication in all clinical situations and facilitate care delivery, government officials said.