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SBAR Communications

SBAR, while created for the clinical setting, is an excellent tool for the non-clinical setting, too. It is an effective tool to use when information needs to be communicated either verbally or in writing.


  • Provides a framework of communication between team members. SBAR originally started in healthcare for team members to share information about a patient’s condition and actions that are needed. It has been enlarged to include the non-clinical area also
  • A structured communication technique designed to convey a great deal of information in a succinct and brief manner.
  • This is important as we all have different styles of communicating, varying by profession, culture, and gender.
  • SBAR can be utilized whenever you have a request or update to share with a fellow worker.


(a concise statement of the problem)

What is going on with the patient?


Your situation should be described in one sentence.

For example, “Dr. Smith, I have a patient of yours that is here on the wrong day for his appointment and would still like to be seen.”


(pertinent and brief information related to the situation)

What is the clinical background or context?

Give BACKGROUND information

State the details of the situation you have obtained by researching the problem.

For example: “The patient arrived to day at 11 am. I have looked at your appointments and you have several slots available. I have looked at your hall partner’s schedule and he has a few slots open also.”


 (analysis and considerations of options —what you found/think)

What do I think the problem is?


Assess the situation and tell the physician what you think should be done.

For example: “The patient is traveling from a long distance. I don’t know if it was our mistake or the patient. I think we should see him today.”

The Two-Challenge Rule (clinical or non-clinical areas)

  • This rule is invoked when a response is not received or when an unsatisfactory response is given.
  • It is your responsibility to assert your concern at least twice to ensure that it has been heard.
  • If the outcome is still not acceptable, contact your supervisor or utilize your chain of command. Chain of command is the hierarchy of authority that you could contact to get a final answer. You need to keep advocating (for the patient) until you have reached an acceptable solution (for the patient).


(action requested/recommended —what you want)

What do I recommend?


A recommendation is where you advise the physician what your method would be for solving the problem. It may or may not be accepted by the physician but is a starting point to discuss solutions.

For example: “I think he should be seen at your afternoon appointment time.”

Why SBAR is effective:
  • SBAR promotes patient safety because it helps team members share information in a concise and structured format.
  • SBAR is not limited to clinical conversations or reports. It is and should be used for all critical communications that require a decision.
  • SBAR is a useful tool to communicate what needs immediate attention and action.
  • An SBAR is not enough to offer a recommendation. It should be a two-way communication: the “receiving party” needs to acknowledge and respond.
  • Use SBAR for all healthcare team member interactions centered on care decisions and interventions.
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