Patient handover in a European border region: Cross-sectional survey study among healthcare workers to explore the status quo, potential risks, and solutions

M.E.J. Bouwmans*, J.A. Beuken, D.M.L. Verstegen, L. van Kersbergen, D.H.J.M. Dolmans, L. Vogt, S. Sopka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Introduction: While the popularity of international care is rising, the complexity of international care compromises patient safety. To identify risks and propose solutions to improve international care, this study explores experiences of healthcare workers with international handovers in a European border region.Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was used to reach out to 3000 healthcare workers, working for hospitals or emergency services in three neighboring countries in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. In total, 846 healthcare workers completed the survey with 35 closed- and open-ended questions about experiences with international patient handover.Results: One-third of respondents had been involved in international handover in the previous month. The handovers occurred in planned and acute care settings and were supported by numerous, yet varying standardized procedures. Healthcare workers were trained for this in some, but not all settings. Respondents mentioned 408 risks and proposed 373 solutions, which were inductively analyzed. Six identified themes classify the level on which risks and accompanying solutions can be found: awareness, professional competencies, communication between professionals, loss of information, facilities and support, and organizational structure.Discussion: This study gives insight in international patient handovers in a European border region. Among the biggest risks experienced are procedural differences, sharing patient information, unfamiliarity with foreign healthcare systems, and not knowing roles and responsibilities of peers working across the border. Standardization of procedures, harmonization of systems, and the possibility for healthcare workers to get to know each other will contribute to reach common ground and move towards optimized and patient-safer cross-border care.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20534345211009434
Pages (from-to)72-81
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Care Coordination
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Cross-border care
  • cross-sectional survey
  • needs assessment
  • patient handoff
  • patient safety

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