EMS Tips

Essential Elements of a Hand-Off Report

EMS professionals deliver two reports for every patient – the radio report and the hand-off report. A hand-off report is not a verbatim repeat of the radio report. This is how a hand-off report is different.

1. Introduce the patient to the receiving nurse or the physician. I always use the nurse’s name and the patient’s name. “Nurse Susan, this is Tim.” They will be spending the next few hours together. Names are helpful.

2. Repeat the key points of the radio report. Make sure to include where the patient is from – home, a skilled nursing facility, work, etc. You are transferring care from person to person and place to place.

3. Update any changes. Note any improvements or declines in the patient’s status since your radio report.

4. Vital signs. Report the most recent set of vital signs and the time they were taken. I usually try to sneak in another set of vital signs between the radio report and the hand-off report. If you have to wait in the room for more than five or ten minutes to give the hand-off report collect another set of vital signs in the room. You will be remembered if you can say, “I just wanted to quick grab another set of vitals for you.”

5. Questions. Finish with this exact phrase, “Nurse Susan, What questions do you have about Tim?” Ask this without doing anything else. Don’t be tearing down the cot linen, walking out of the room, or typing. This is your final moment to impress the nurse and the patient. They will notice and appreciate your single-minded focus on them.

What do you differently? What do you think are the keys to a good hand-off report?


By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.