Web site spotlight: For this team, ’I’ was the answer

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 14, 2008

While examining its incident reports, Hartford (CT) Hospital noticed many accidents resulted from a lack of communication during patient handoffs. Adding an "I" was the answer to invoking some chatter.

SBAR (i.e., situation, background, assessment, recommendation) is a tool developed by Michael Leonard, MD, along with colleagues at Kaiser Permanente of Colorado, that is designed to streamline the way doctors and nurses communicate during telephone calls and patient handoffs.

Hartford added the "I" for introduction and required all licensed employees involved with direct patient care to follow the new communication protocol daily. To continually remind employees about ISBAR, the facility uses the following educational materials:

  • Posters and flyers on every nursing unit stating what ISBAR is 
  • Laminated pocket cards detailing when and how to use ISBAR 
  • Pads of paper for staff members to organize their thoughts before making a patient report or phone call 
  • Pens that say ISBAR

Further, staff members are continually educated on ISBAR by:

  • Rounding with nurses 
  • Presenting material during new graduate orientation 
  • Conducting patient handoff scenarios within small tutorials 
  • Writing articles for the hospital's newsletter

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from "ISBAR: Adding an extra step in handoff communication," found in the Reading Room at Get a free trial membership that will give you 30 days to test drive all the exciting features on the Web site.



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