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SBAR Strategy: Clear Nursing Communication Guide 2023

What Is the SBAR Technique in Nursing

SBAR Strategy: Clear Nursing Communication Guide 2023

Communication is one of the most crucial elements of the medical profession, between patients, caregivers, and medical professionals. Failure to rescue (FTR) is frequently used to measure a hospital’s care quality.

FTR can be caused by various circumstances, including a failure to notice patient deterioration, a failure to convey concerns, and a failure to diagnose and treat the patient effectively. In many circumstances, effective communication can avoid FTR.

Good nurse-physician communication is essential for hospital efficiency; it lowers the risk of error, relieves the unnecessary burden on patients, and decreases workplace stress and conflict between nurses and physicians. Consider adopting the SBAR strategy in your contacts with patients, other nurses, and physicians to improve your nursing communication skills.

The SBAR approach might assist you in clearly relaying all pertinent facts. In this post, we’ll go over the SBAR technique, when it can be used, the benefits of SBAR, how to utilize it, and some SBAR examples in nursing.

What Is the SBAR Technique in Nursing?

The situation, background, assessment, and recommendation (SBAR) technique is used in nursing to help health care team to explain key aspects of a patient’s condition. SBAR is a Useful tool for organizing and communicating information that encourages team members to share information, supports short response times, and emphasizes providing high-quality care.

“SBAR is an easy-to-remember, concrete method ideal for framing any dialogue, especially essential ones demanding a clinician’s immediate attention and action,” according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

It allows professionals a clear, unambiguous means to transmit vital information to one another, allowing minimal opportunity for error and reducing the risk of patient deterioration resulting from a misunderstanding. The following information is included in the SBAR technique:


You should summarize the scenario or problem in this section. Consider jotting down crucial details, including your role in the patient’s care and the patient’s name, unit, and room number. Describe the scenario, including the nature of the problem, how it occurred, and the intensity of the problem.


This section contains pertinent patient background information, including the patient’s admittance date and time, diagnosis, key information, available test results, and code status. If you have several lab reports, provide information about the initial test’s date and time and any variations in the results.


You provide a professional overview or diagnosis depending on the patient’s situation and history in this part.


In this section, you dictate directions for your colleague’s healthcare practitioners on how to proceed with the patient’s care.

When to Use SBAR in Nursing

In general, SBAR should be utilized to educate and guide any patient information exchange with other healthcare providers. SBAR can be used in a variety of situations, including the following:

  • When a medical team is dealing with a patient’s problem.
  • Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals are invited to participate in the conversation.
  • A quick reaction team should have access to information about the situation during an emergency or crisis.
  • For in-person and over-the-phone discussions about a patient’s care.
  • When raising or developing concerns about a patient’s care.
  • When passing communication to other healthcare providers between shifts or during a shift change.
  • During emergency and safety briefings.

However, it is important to emphasize that SBAR cannot be implemented uniformly. There are restrictions to using this strategy, as there are no methods. These are some of them:

  • When the client is unfamiliar with SBAR and is at risk of misusing it.
  • When it comes to exposing patient information, it runs afoul of HIPAA.
  • When a healthcare expert is under duress and unable to provide a suggestion.

Learning Effective Nursing Communication Skills

One of the most effective ways to develop communication skills is through education. Nursing degrees emphasize communication skills, which are critical for enhancing patient outcomes and spotting a decline in a patient’s condition. Students learn in a comfortable and flexible online setting that fits their job and home schedules.

Guidelines for Using SBAR in Nursing

Here are some pointers for using the SBAR approach to communicate effectively:

Work in a Team to Formulate an Action Plan

Coming up with a proposal or action often necessitates the input or experience of another person to make an informed conclusion. In these cases, the final element of your email could include a request for advice on how to continue.

Organize Your Views

It’s a good idea to assemble your thoughts before using the SBAR technique to make sure you are just communicating the most important information. Determine whatever background information is pertinent to the patient’s circumstance. Consider generating a bulleted list of things to include if you’re making a call to a doctor or have time to plan your comments.

Be Clear and Concise

SBAR’s main purpose is to help patients, and other healthcare providers avoid receiving extraneous information that could confuse or frighten them. Others can ask inquiries after giving your recommendation if they need more information.

Answer Additional Information Inquiries

After presenting your patient’s circumstances and needs to another care team representative, be prepared to answer additional inquiries. It may be easier to discuss more specifics once you’ve presented the most important facts.

Benefits of SBAR Technique in Nursing

The SBAR approach is advantageous because it provides nurses with a framework for swiftly and effectively communicating crucial aspects of risky settings. It guarantees that other healthcare team members receive all pertinent information in a timely and structured manner, along with precise directions on how to respond. When it comes to mastering communication strategies, the SBAR technique can be extremely useful.

Limitations of SBAR Tool

SBAR is a viable and validated communication tool that may readily be adopted in hospital-based practice for sharing information among health care providers; nevertheless, it has limits in patients with complex medical histories and care plans, particularly in the critical care environment. All healthcare staff must be trained on the SBAR instrument to clear communication. All health care professionals must adopt and maintain standardized communication forms, which will necessitate a cultural shift.

Examples of SBAR in Nursing

If you’re ready to begin using the SBAR technique, here are some real-life examples of the communication strategy in action:

Example 1

In the first scenario, a nurse provides their patient’s next caregiver a shift report. Harriet, a 53-year-old woman, was brought in by paramedics following an automobile accident. She has a few small bruises and scratches.

The staff has been watching her for signs of a concussion. The nurse, however, believes Harriet is ready to be discharged after several hours of observation. The nurse could utilize the SBAR approach to communicate their patient’s demands in the following way:

  • Situation: “Harriet Brown was taken to the hospital at 9 a.m. due to worries about a brain injury she sustained in a car accident. She has no major injuries aside from the possibility of a concussion.”
  • Background: “Since her entrance this morning, Harriet has appeared alert and oriented. She’ll be returning home to her husband, who will be able to keep an eye on her.”
  • Evaluation: “I’ve just assessed her and don’t believe she’s had a concussion. The patient appears to be in good health and is ready to go home.”
  • Recommendation: “I recommend that we keep an eye on her for another 30 minutes and then provide an over-the-counter pain treatment regimen before releasing her.”

Example 2

Omar Nour, a 63-year-old man, is experiencing symptoms of cardiac arrest. His nurse must inform the on-call physician about the circumstances. In this case, they might employ the SBAR approach as follows:

  • The situation is: “Dr. Hinkley, my name is Mariah Asari, and I’m calling on behalf of your patient, Omar Nour, from Waverly Community Hospital. Mr. Nour is having trouble breathing and is feeling chest pains.”
  • Background: “Mr. Nour had shoulder surgery the day before yesterday. One hour ago, the patient began complaining of chest trouble. His oximeter gives him inconsistent results since it can’t detect a stable pulse. His blood pressure is 111 over 54, and his respiration appears strained.”
  • Evaluation: “I believe the patient has a heart episode or pulmonary embolism,” says the doctor.
  • Recommendation: If you’re looking for a unique way to express yourself, “I urgently request you come to the patient’s room for a complete examination. Meanwhile, I intend to put him on oxygen. Do you agree with me?”

Example 3

In the last scenario, a nurse transmits patient information to a visiting consultant about a possible pneumonia case. They can use SBAR to explain the case’s most critical details:

  • Situation: “Mr. Pierce was brought here by ambulance at 7 a.m. because he felt sick and had sudden shortness of breath. He’s 73 years old and has been diagnosed with pneumonia. He’s now in a good place.”
  • Background: “There is no substantial medical history on the patient. He is a nonsmoker, a light drinker, and only uses antihypertensive drugs at this time. His numbers were unremarkable, even though he was afebrile and had a slightly higher white cell count when he arrived. We believe we’ve ruled out the likelihood of a pulmonary embolism since he recently returned from a road trip.”
  • Evaluation: “I believe the patient has pneumonia since he has a cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath.”
  • Recommendation: if you’re looking for a unique way to express yourself, “I’d like to repeat the blood tests, get a standard chest X-ray, and begin antibiotic treatment. Do you think that’s a reasonable course of action?”


Patient safety is the most important factor in patient care. Communication failures are the most common cause of adverse outcomes. During patient handoff, health care providers make every effort to avoid communication mishaps. SBAR is a structured communication method found to reduce adverse occurrences in the hospital setting.

SBAR is a communication tool for healthcare practitioners that has been endorsed by several medical associations and significant healthcare organizations. This communication tool has been used to transfer patient care in various clinical settings because it builds a shared mental model around the patient’s condition.

The SBAR communication tool is simple to use and adapts to most clinical situations; nevertheless, it can be difficult for complex clinical scenarios such as ICU patients. Furthermore, maintaining the therapeutic use of the SBAR communication tool necessitates educational training and a culture shift.

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