The Christmas and New Year period can be a major risk to patient safety when health professionals head off on well-deserved annual leave.

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Failure to transfer care or inadequate transfer of care is a common cause of serious adverse outcomes. Inadequate handover can also lead to delayed treatment, delayed follow up of significant test results, unnecessary repeat of tests, medication errors and increased risk of medico-legal action.

Ensuring that your patients and clients are cared for while you are away takes a bit of planning but we are here to give you some tips to make it as stress-free as possible.

1.Advance notice

  • Poster in the waiting room
  • Post a message on the website or other social media
  • Message on the answering system with alternative care options
  • Personally see anyone you are currently treating in hospital so they understand the plan of care while you are away.

2. Advise your colleagues

  • Identify someone you can rely on to cover you for required consultations or if there is an urgent matter
  • Handover is paramount – regardless of where you practise.

3. Handover care

  • Face-to-face with colleague covering
  • In writing
    • Ensure health records are up to date
    • Provide written instructions for vital issues e.g. test results or medication adjustments.

Holidays are an important factor in maintaining good balanced health and for preparing for the coming year. Taking these few steps will give you peace of mind while you are away from the practice.

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