SBAR is an easy to remember mechanism for discussing patients, in person or especially over the phone. By using SBAR, information can be conveyed clearly and without important details being omitted. SBAR can be used in the inpatient or outpatient setting, and for urgent or non-urgent communications, especially when time is limited.
Before the handover
- Perform all pertinent examinations and note any findings
- Collect all relevant information including patient notes, test results, observations, and have it at hand.
The aim is that should the person you hand over to request more information, you can provide this easily.
- Identify self- name, role
- Identify patient: name, location, age, gender
- Describe reason for call- are you worried?
"Hi my name is Alex, I'm one of the junior doctors. I'm calling from Ward 6 to speak about John Smith, a 77 year old gentleman who I'm concerned is desaturating despite 15L oxygen"
- Presenting Complaint & diagnosis
- Relevant Past Medical History
- Other appropriate background- medications, allergies, recent test results
"Mr Smith was admitted two days ago with worsening cough and shortness of breath, on a background of longstanding COPD. This was thought to be an infective exacerbation, his CURB-65 score on admission was 2, and he was treated with salbutamol and Doxycycline. These initially helped, however today he has deteriorated with saturations of 82% on 15L of oxygen."
- Your impression of the clinical picture
- Vital signs, NEWS score (and where they have scored)
- Any scan/test results
- Severity of patient
"I'm concerned that this infection is not being adequately controlled, and that he is not saturating. His NEWS score is now 2, with a respiratory rate of 25, and blood pressure of 100/77, with other vital signs normal. On examination he has bilateral basal crackles, and is coughing heavily"
- What you want, and how quickly it is to be performed
- Suggestions for intermediate action to be taken
"I'd like you to come and review Mr Smith's bronchodilators and see if his perfusion can be improved by modifying these."
"Shall I give him some salbutamol in the meantime? Is there anything else I can do?"
"How long will you be?"
When receiving a handover
Keep quiet, and let the person speaking finish the full SBAR handover, ask any questions at the end.