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3.4 Continuity and coordination of care

Further resources in this section

Effective continuity of care is vital in protecting patient safety. It is the duty of every surgeon to convey high quality and appropriate clinical information to oncoming healthcare professionals to allow for the safe transfer of responsibility for patients. In meeting the standards of Good Medical Practice, you should:

  • Ensure that the patient knows the name of the person responsible for their care. If the responsible person changes, this should be promptly communicated to the patient.
  • Whenever possible, ensure that there is a clear line of responsibility for the patient’s care at any one time.
  • Work together with other members of the healthcare team in a professional and supportive manner to maintain continuity of patient care, regardless of patient location. Where possible, make full use of electronic handover systems available in your hospital.
  • Ensure that there is a formal and explicit handover for the assessment, treatment and continuing care of patients for whom you are responsible to another named colleague following periods of duty or when you are unavailable for any reason.
  • Ensure that sufficient protected time within working hours is set aside for handover.
  • When transferring care to an oncoming team, ensure that team members have access to all necessary clinical information about the patient. The patient’s notes should be clear and sufficiently detailed, taking into account the level of knowledge of the oncoming team members. All notes should be traceable to the referring surgeon.
  • Be prepared to take responsibility for patients under the care of an absent colleague even if formal arrangements have not been made.
  • Continue to participate in the care and decisions concerning your patients when they are in the intensive care unit or the high dependency unit.

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Title/Links Author Published Date
Delegation and referral GMC 2013
Safe Handovers RCS 2007

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