Communication is Critical to Healthcare
You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't communicate them, your ideas won't get you anywhere.
That quote is true in every area of life. Most communication challenges do not have life and death situations hanging in the balance. However, in healthcare, every conversation has that potential impact. In fact, some studies indicate 70 to 80 percent of medical errors are related to interpersonal interaction issues. It has been noted that in 63% of sentinel event occurrences, communication breakdown is the leading root cause. Not only is poor communication costly, it can also cause heartache, pain and suffering for patients and their families. Poor communication has also been identified as the primary factor of both medical malpractice claims and major patient safety violations, including errors resulting in patient death .
How do we address these issues? Healthcare leaders agree that implementing a standardized approach to communication across health care systems is the only way to eliminate these preventable errors.
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) Patient Safety Steering Committee believes employing “SBAR communication” among all healthcare providers will make a tremendous, positive impact on professional-to-professional communication and ultimately, patient safety. And so, it was with this conviction that the development of the SBAR Communication Tool Kit was launched.
Now, the SBAR Communication Tool Kit is being provided to all of Arizona’s hospitals to assist in equipping them with tools needed to facilitate effective communication and further this state’s goal of being the safest state in the nation.
Originating from the nuclear submarine service, SBAR stands for:
S - Situation: What is happening at the present time?
B - Background: What are the circumstances leading up to this situation?
A - Assessment: What do I think the problem is?
R - Recommendation: What should we do to correct the problem?
SBAR creates a shared mental model for effective information transfer by providing a standardized structure for concise, factual communications among clinicians. Consider the many SBAR communication opportunities that involve transferring important patient information:
- nurse-to-nurse (such as change of shift report or patient transfer)
- nurse - to -physician
- staff education
- new policy and procedure communiqués
- debriefings on internal issues
- information on new procedures
- administrative team meetings and
- even e-mail communication.
This Tool Kit is designed to be a thorough guide to assist your facility through the implementation and training of SBAR communication. Items included in this tool kit are samples of SBAR documents, staff education, including practice scenarios to use SBAR, policy recommendations, and more.
Healthcare professionals can learn to communicate in ways that are effective and meaningful. This in turn, will lead to a reduction in harm, increased satisfaction for all providers and overall better outcomes for patients and their families.