SBAR is an easy to remember mechanism that you can use to frame conversations, especially critical ones, requiring a clinician's immediate attention and action. It enables you to clarify what information should be communicated between members of the team, and how. It can also help you to develop teamwork and foster a culture of patient safety.
The tool consists of standardised prompt questions within four sections, to ensure that staff are sharing concise and focused information. It allows staff to communicate assertively and effectively, reducing the need for repetition.
The tool helps staff anticipate the information needed by colleagues and encourages assessment skills. Using SBAR prompts staff to formulate information with the right level of detail.
When does it work best?
The NHS is often criticised for poor communication, however, there are few tools around that actively focus on how to improve communication, in particular verbal communication.
The tool can be used to shape communication at any stage of the patient's journey, from the content of a GP's referral letter, consultant to consultant referrals through to communicating discharge back to a GP.
When staff use the tool in a clinical setting, they make a recommendation which ensures that the reason for the communication is clear. This is particularly important in situations where staff may be uncomfortable about making a recommendation i.e. those who are inexperienced or who need to communicate up the hierarchy. The use of SBAR prevents the hit and miss process of ‘hinting and hoping'.
How to use it
A sample NHS SBAR template to show how to use SBAR in your hospital can be viewed in the following document: SBAR diagram.
A detailed description of the steps involved:
• Identify yourself the site/unit you are calling from
• Identify the patient by name and the reason for your report
• Describe your concern
Firstly, describe the