Case Management

SBAR method improves communication across units

Case Management Monthly, February 1, 2011

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Methodist South Hospital in Memphis, TN, began using the Situation, Background, Assessment, and  Recommendation (SBAR) tool to meet two basic needs: standardizing communication across the facility and managing complex cases. Since requiring all care team members to use the tool, the staff at Methodist has found that it more than meets their needs. 

Michael Leonard, MD, Doug Bonacum, and Suzanne Graham from Kaiser Permanente of Colorado developed the SBAR tool, which has since been implemented throughout the country. The tool creates a simple format that care providers can use to tell each other about a patient’s condition or a specific situation. It’s divided into four fields: situation, background, assessment, and recommendation. 

Methodist South started using the SBAR tool within the case management department in 2004, but in 2010 the hospital’s corporate office decided to require all disciplines to use the tool for discharge planning and handoff communications. 

There is an SBAR module built into Methodist South’s electronic medical record software, which the care providers fill out for each patient who comes through, says Carolyn Wade, RN, BS, CCM, ACM, case manager at Methodist South. 

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