The art of giving report

Have you ever left after a shift and realized you forgot to relay some important piece of information to the next nurse? It can be tough to organize and prioritize your communication in a timely manner. A structured format or even the use of a template can be helpful; however experience definitely plays a role here too. Like anything else, giving report to an oncoming shift or during any patient hand-off takes practice. A common acronym used to ensure an organized and thorough report is SBAR: Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation.

When I first heard of this method, it seemed too short for me. How could 4 letters/headings be used to convey all the information about my patients after a 12-hour shift? As I learned a little more about SBAR, I realized it was not much different from the method of report I had been using for years.

S= Situation. Include admitting diagnosis, history of present illness, events of hospitalization (Tip: for patients with long hospitalizations, a timeline of events is helpful.) Also, what is the patient’s current situation? Include review of vital signs and events from the past 24 hours.

B= Background. Past medical history, past surgical history, family history, psychosocial history.

A= Assessment. Review of systems. My preferred method of organization has always been neurologic, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, hematologic/immunologic, and endocrine systems; skin; laboratory values and diagnostic findings; medications; psychosocial issues.

R= Recommendation.  Include anything that needs ongoing or further attention.

What method of report works best for you?

Posted: 10/11/2010 7:37:03 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 5 comments

Stan Fouti
April 14. 2013 03:35
The SBAR method seems promising: clear, quick and easy !
Thank you for this interesting article, I will add this blog in my account !
2/13/2015 7:42:18 PM

Sheryl Turner
October 18. 2011 08:56
This seems to be a good system. I will implement it the next time I am on duty and see how it goes. Documentation for home care can be really extensive, this may help to get in all info in less time.
2/13/2015 7:41:24 PM

Nancey Pietrok
July 23. 2010 08:04
I recently came across your web site and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my very first comment. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this website very frequently.
2/13/2015 7:40:56 PM

Jeanmarie Oginski
April 11. 2010 20:01
I'm trying to find a recycling center in New York (I live in Brooklyn). In my school, we are collecting plastic bottles and aluminum cans to take them to a recycling center as a fundraiser. Apparently my teacher and I searched the web and we can't find any recycling centers in the boroughs (looking for ones that give you 5 cents per item or any that give u money for a certain amount of recycled items). Does anyone know of any recycling centers where we can get money (no prizes) for our cans and bottles? It will greatly appreciated.
2/13/2015 7:40:11 PM

February 23. 2010 16:34
Imparting all that information will take how long? Let's be conservative and say 4 minutes per patient. Multiple that by a conservative 5 patients and you've got 20 minutes. While it all looks nice on paper, just like nursing education, the theory is unlikely to match the reality.
2/13/2015 7:39:26 PM