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SBAR communication tool Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

SBAR Communication tool

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


SBAR is an easy to use, structured form of commun­ication that enables inform­ation to be transf­erred accurately between indivi­duals. SBAR was originally developed by the United States military for commun­ication on nuclear submar­ines, but has been succes­sfully used in many different healthcare settings, partic­ularly relating to improving patient safety.

SBAR consists of standa­rdised prompt questions in 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 and the likelihood for errors. As the structure is shared, it also 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.

Next Steps

Once you have started using SBAR as a commun­ication tool, you need to monitor the progress – how well it is being used and whether commun­ication is improved. If it is proving succes­sful, the next step is to embed the tool into people’s everyday habits, so that it becomes ‘the way things are done around here’. Ideas for helping the more widespread use of SBAR include:

• using prompts and visual cues – eg stickers on the telephone, letter templates and patient notes
• ensuring people feel it’s alright to prompt each other using your agreed framework. For example, ‘Can I make sure I understand you? What is your recomm­end­ation here?’
• make time for team discus­sion, reflection and refinement of the tool
• dissem­inate your good practice to other teams by modeling the commun­ication behaviour you are aiming for.


I am (name), (X) nurse on ward (X)
I am calling about (patient X)
I am calling because I am concerned that...
(e.g. BP is low/high, pulse is XX, temper­ature is XX, Early
Warning Score is XX)



Patient (X) was admitted on (XX date) with...
(e.g. MI/chest infection)
They have had (X operat­ion­/pr­oce­dur­e/i­nve­sti­gation)
Patient (X)’s condition has changed in the last (XX mins)
Their last set of obs were (XX)
Patient (X)’s normal condition is...
(e.g. alert/­dro­wsy­/co­nfused, pain free)


I think the problem is (XXX)
And I have...
(e.g. given O2/ana­lgesia, stopped the infusion)
I am not sure what the problem is but patient (X) is deteri­orating
I don’t know what’s wrong but I am really worried


I need you to...
Come to see the patient in the next (XX mins)
Is there anything I need to do in the mean time?
(e.g. stop the fluid/­repeat the obs)