Safe maternity care depends on the work of effective, well trained and capable multi-professional teams.
Maternity teams commonly include midwives, maternity care assistants, obstetricians, anaesthetists and junior doctors, and can draw on and interact with a much wider and diverse range of professionals across the healthcare system. Ensuring that all of these professionals understand their roles, communicate clearly, handover tasks and information effectively and work together constructively is essential to maintain patient safety in maternity care.
One of the most challenging aspect of team work in maternity involves the various forms of clinical handover that can take place at different stages of maternity care. Designing effective handover techniques is a core concern in many areas of patient safety, and has been examined in detail specifically in relation to maternity care. There are a variety of established tools and tactics that can be used to ensure safe transitions of care. Training on many of these handover techniques helps to build broader teamwork and communication skills.
One particular approach to managing transitions and clinical handovers is often the ‘SBAR’ technique. This has been successfully employed in a wide range of maternity settings. Using the recipe, ‘Situation - Background - Assessment - Recommendation’ provides a clear and structured form to communication that can help aid concise and accurate communication during handovers in maternity care. A range of other techniques include briefings and de-briefings before and after key events, and embedding routine daily briefings into maternity care to support collective awareness of safety issues.