Raising the SBAR: How better communication improves patient outcomes

Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Nursing Management 04/2008; 38(3):41-3. DOI: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000312625.74434.e8
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Effective communication and teamwork is essential for the delivery of high quality, safe patient care. Communication failures are an extremely common cause of inadvertent patient harm. The complexity of medical care, coupled with the inherent limitations of human performance, make it critically important that clinicians have standardised communication tools, create an environment in which individuals can speak up and express concerns, and share common "critical language" to alert team members to unsafe situations. All too frequently, effective communication is situation or personality dependent. Other high reliability domains, such as commercial aviation, have shown that the adoption of standardised tools and behaviours is a very effective strategy in enhancing teamwork and reducing risk. We describe our ongoing patient safety implementation using this approach within Kaiser Permanente, a non-profit American healthcare system providing care for 8.3 million patients. We describe specific clinical experience in the application of surgical briefings, properties of high reliability perinatal care, the value of critical event training and simulation, and benefits of a standardised communication process in the care of patients transferred from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities. Additionally, lessons learned as to effective techniques in achieving cultural change, evidence of improving the quality of the work environment, practice transfer strategies, critical success factors, and the evolving methods of demonstrating the benefit of such work are described.
    Quality and Safety in Health Care 11/2004; 13 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):i85-90. DOI:10.1136/qhc.13.suppl_1.i85 · 2.16 Impact Factor
  • AORN journal 06/2004; 79(5):1053-4, 1057. DOI:10.1016/S0001-2092(06)60736-9
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    ABSTRACT: The importance of sharing a common mental model in communication prompted efforts to spread the use of the SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation) tool at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington, Illinois. An elderly patient was on warfarin sodium (Coumadin) 2.5 mg daily. The nurse received a call from the lab regarding an elevated international normalized ratio (INR) but did not write down the results (she was providing care to another patient). On the basis of the previous lab cumulative summary, the physician increased the warfarin dose for the patient; a dangerously high INR resulted. The medical center initiated a collaborative to implement the use of the SBAR communication tool. Education was incorporated into team resource management training and general orientation. Tools included SBAR pocket cards for clinicians and laminated SBAR "cheat sheets" posted at each phone. SBAR became the communication methodology from leadership to the microsystem in all forms of reporting. Staff adapted quickly to the use of SBAR, although hesitancy was noted in providing the "recommendation" to physicians. Medical staff were encouraged to listen for the SBAR components and encourage staff to share their recommendation if not initially provided.
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