What is SBAR and What is SBAR Communication?

A Communication Technique for Today's Healthcare Professional

Situation Background Assessment Recommendation (SBAR) is a standardized way of communicating. It promotes patient safety because it helps individuals communicate with each other with a shared set of expectations. Staff and physicians can use SBAR to share patient information in a concise and structured format. It improves efficiency and accuracy. SBAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Background
  • Assessment
  • Recommendation

What is Situation Background Assessment
Originally developed by the US Navy as a communication technique that could be used on nuclear submarines, Safer Healthcare introduced SBAR into healthcare settings in the late 1990s as part of its Crew Resource Management training curriculum. Since that time, SBAR has been adopted by hospitals and care facilities around the world as a simple but effective way to standardize communication between care givers.

Standardize Communication among Staff and Caregivers

SBAR offers hospitals and care facilities a solution to bridge the gap in communication, including hand-offs, patient transfers, critical conversations and telephone calls. It creates a shared expectation between the sender and receiver of the information being shared.

Sample SBAR Forms, Checklists and Usage Guides

checklists and usage guides that have been designed to extend and sustain a formalized SBAR effort throughout an organization.
Safer Healthcare offers a variety of SBAR forms, checklists and usage guides that have been designed to extend and sustain a formalized SBAR effort throughout an organization. Click here to download samples of SBAR Forms, Checklist and Guides

Using SBAR, patient reports are more accurate, efficient, and consistent enterprise-wide. This simple, yet highly effective communication technique can be used when:

  • A nurse is calling a physician
  • Nurses are handing off patients to one another
  • Nurses are transferring patients to other facilities or to other levels of care

SBAR Training Videos

Situation Background Assessment Training Videos

Safer Healthcare offers SBAR training videos for both Acute and Long Term Care facilities. These educational DVDs are available for only $149 apiece. To order your copy, call 303 298 8083 or download an order form.

Why is SBAR recommended for calls to physicians?

SBAR promotes better communication in healthcare. In most cases nurses and physicians communicate in very different ways. Nurses are taught to report in narrative form, providing all details known about the patient. Physicians are taught to communicate using brief “bullet points” that provide key information to the listener.

Here is an example of a call to a physician using SBAR:

  • Dr. Jones, this is Deb McDonald RN, I am calling from ABC Hospital about your patient Jane Smith.
  • Here's the situation: Mrs. Smith is having increasing dyspnea and is complaining of chest pain.
  • The supporting background information is that she had a total knee replacement two days ago. About two hours ago she began complaining of chest pain. Her pulse is 120 and her blood pressure is 128/54. She is restless and short of breath.
  • My assessment of the situation is that she may be having a cardiac event or a pulmonary embolism.
  • I recommend that you see her immediately and that we start her on O2 stat. Do you agree?

Why implement SBAR in your healthcare organization?

The safe and effective care of patients depends on consistent communication between caregivers. Hand-offs or the process of passing on specific information about patients from one caregiver or one team to another, is an area where the breakdown of communication often leads to episodes of avoidable harm to patients.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals has added "standardized communication" to the Patient Safety Goals and recommends SBAR as a best practice.

Practical and Effective SBAR Tools and Resources

Effective nurse-to-physician communication tools

Avoid communication breakdowns. Meet Joint Commission goals with standardized hand-off communications. Increase the effectiveness of nurse-to-physician communication. Equip your team to communicate effectively with practical tools.

Click here to download Safer Healthcare SBAR Product Price Sheet and Order Form

Safer Healthcare's SBAR products are designed to give your staff members the following educational advantage:

  • An understanding of the SBAR technique and why it is useful
  • The ability to increase communication productivity
  • Standardization of communication messages
  • Practical tools to begin using SBAR immediately
  • Support materials to sustain program momentum and progress

Contact Us for More Information about SBAR

Safer Healthcare offers customized SBAR training workshops and customized SBAR resources including checklists, hand-off guides and other educational products. Contact Safer Healthcare's team of experts for more information: