The transfer of professional responsibility for some or all aspects of patient care, within and between professional groups on a temporary or permanent basis, is termed clinical handover. Communication during clinical handover is considered a challenging patient safety problem. A key principle of transfer of professional responsibility for patient care is the minimum amount of information or content that must be contained and transferred in any particular type of clinical handover.

Aim: The purpose of this literature review was to establish the scope of the literature about clinical handover from the operating room to Post Anaesthesia Care Unit (PACU) published in the last ten years and identify relevant key sources, theories, concepts and ideas.

Method: The literature included in this review is divided into policy framework, practice, theoretical and primary research literature.

Findings: This literature review demonstrates that either clinicians perceive clinical handover as informal, unstructured and inconsistent or transfer of information in handover as incomplete or unclearly expressed. Anaesthetists and PACU nurses differed in expectations of content and timing of information transfer.

Conclusion: There is a need to develop training and educational strategies to improve clinical handover practice, particularly in a way that encourages collaboration.