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 6 comments

Nilda Morales
32yr ER Nursing, get report from triage few sentences. The rest as you assess the patient and start explaining what you are going to do to get to why they are there if they can understand you. I always felt I was a detective collecting the data which would produce the answer, when MD reveiwed it. The best part was when patient Thanked me because he/she was feeling better. The information, the IV placement, blood collecting, especially blood glucose, EKG, observing the patient move or speak, smell. Would give me information. The recording of initial patient arrival if vital for the rest of the team to get the picture as time passes. I love my work. Now I am in a nursing home trying to teach nurses how to give report. It is very different, yet the same. No IV, bloods, EKG to do. Nursing is" LOVE" for what you do and the difference you make. The report has to be tailored to a new group of patients, I am working how to help nurses accept and learn this.
11/23/2017 9:43:05 AM

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