Effective Communication Ensures Patient Safety



Effective Communication Ensures Patient Safety

Can you explain to me what is meant by SBAR? I heard this acronym mentioned during a session at HM09, but I did not understand the term.

S. East, MD

Pullman, Wash.

Dr. Hospitalist responds: SBAR (pronounced “ess-bar”) is a standardized method of communication that originated in the Navy’s nuclear submarine program. It stands for:

  • Situation: What is happening presently?
  • Background: What circumstances led to this situation?
  • Assessment: What do I think is the problem?
  • Recommendation: What should we do to correct the problem?

The SBAR system was developed to prevent simple communication errors that could lead to global disaster.

Kaiser Permanente of Colorado was among the first to adopt this model of communication among its staff and has since popularized its use in healthcare. Numerous hospitals and healthcare organizations have implemented SBAR as an approach to minimize communication errors between healthcare providers. The idea is that eliminating communication errors between healthcare providers improves patient safety. SBAR encourages all providers (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.) to communicate with a shared mental model for information transfer.

SBAR requires providers to organize their thoughts, understand what it is they want to convey, and make requests in an organized fashion. Adherence to SBAR allows providers to transmit factual information in a concise manner.

Highly effective communication is essential to any hospitalist program. The SBAR approach should not be limited to nurse-doctor communication. I encourage you to implement this tool at your institution.

For more information, an SBAR toolkit is available at www.azhha.org/patient_safety/sbar.aspx. TH

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