The practice of audio-taped and pre-recorded clinical handovers at St Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny “has been discontinued”, a spokesperson for Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) has informed the Medical Independent (MI).
“The process was phased out over the past number of years. The practice was never in place for medical handovers,” stated the spokesperson.
According to a HSE Internal Audit report, dated August 2022, the practice of audio-taped nursing handovers was taking place “in direct contravention” of a recommendation in national clinical guidance for the area. Recommendation 21 in the guideline states clinical handover should be conducted face-to-face where possible, be conducted verbally, supported by relevant documentation, and facilitate two-way communication processes. Pre-recorded clinical handover “must not” be used for shift or inter-departmental clinical handover “in any circumstances”, according to the recommendation.
The audit found that the hospital had developed a guideline for the practice of audiotape-recorded nursing handovers. “During staff interviews, it was stated that it was hoped that the Haddington Road agreement and recent reduction in working hours for nursing staff may allow for handover to be built into the roster, and therefore negate the need for the audio-taped nursing handovers.”
The audit report recommended that St Luke’s management ensure this practice was discontinued. In an associated report, Internal Audit advised that the HSE National Director of Acute Operations should request Hospital Groups to review compliance with recommendation 21 in the guideline and request confirmation that the practice of audio-taped and pre-recorded clinical handover at acute hospitals, where the practice was occurring, is discontinued to comply with the guideline.
A HSE spokesperson told MI the National Director of Acute Operations “has received confirmation from the Hospital Groups that in line with recommendation 21… where the practice of audio-taped and pre-recorded clinical handover was occurring, it is being discontinued”.
“The HSE notes that, as per the national clinical guidelines, shift and inter-departmental clinical handover should promote a structure which allows for data verification, discussion, shared clinical decision-making, and identification of operational issues and other factors that may impact on clinical care.”