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OB Guideline 3: Clinician Coverage and Patient Handoffs


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OB Guideline 3: Clinician Coverage and Patient Handoffs

Related to: Clinical Guidelines, Communication, Documentation, Nursing, Obstetrics, Teamwork Training

For clinicians working as a group, coverage should be formally agreed to with adequate communication within the group to ensure good follow up. Each patient should be informed early in her pregnancy about group coverage arrangements.

For non-group practice, coverage arrangements for a clinician who is unavailable must be carefully made with a qualified clinician who has adequate time and has agreed to provide coverage. A formal handoff should occur at the time the coverage is initiated.

When a patient is in the hospital and the clinician arranges for coverage, the handoff should ensure the following:

  1. the patient is notified and knows who will be covering
  2. other members of the health care team are notified of the coverage arrangements
  3. the clinician assuming the coverage is qualified and has the necessary clinical privileges
  4. the covering clinician is notified in a timely manner and agrees to cover
  5. the clinician’s office staff is informed of coverage arrangements, and know how and where to reach the clinician who has agreed to assume coverage

Patient Handoff

The process for the transfer of patient information and knowledge from one clinician to another clinician. The process of a handoff should include:

  • interactive communications, including the opportunity to ask questions, clarify and confirm the information being transmitted
  • limited interruptions
  • a process for verification
  • an opportunity to review relevant historical data


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May 1, 2014
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