SBAR in Nursing Communication: Format & Examples

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  • 0:00 What is SBAR Communication?
  • 1:06 The 'S' in SBAR: Situation
  • 2:04 The 'B' in SBAR: Background
  • 2:38 The 'A' in SBAR: Assessment
  • 3:30 The 'R' in SBAR:…
  • 4:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lynee Carter
In this lesson you will learn how nurses can effectively communicate with doctors and other members of the healthcare team about patient problems using the SBAR model.

What Is SBAR Communication in Nursing?

When you are talking with people, you want to be sure that they hear and understand what you are saying. This is especially true if you are talking to them about a concern or problem. In the healthcare profession, it is extremely important that specific information is communicated in a way that will help everyone fully interpret the situation. Nurses use the SBAR model of communication to help with this issue.

Good communication skills are essential for nurses to possess when interacting with doctors. SBAR is a model that helps nurses with effective communication. It is used to verbalize problems about patients to the doctors. The main goal is to receive responses that involve solutions that will help the patients.

SBAR stands for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation. Using this model also encourages nurses and doctors to work together to come up with a plan that is beneficial and safe.


The situation is when the nurse describes the problem. When first talking with the doctors, nurses introduce their name, professional title, and work location followed by telling the names of the patients they are talking about. If working at a hospital, the doctor is also informed of the unit and patient's room. Then the nurse explains the patient problem in detail. This can be patient complaints like body pain, nausea, and difficulty breathing. It can also include issues the nurse identified, such as an abnormal blood pressure, bleeding, or change in a patient's level of consciousness.

Here is an example of the situation portion of SBAR playing out:

Hello Dr. Smith. This is Nancy, the nurse on the 9A unit, caring for Mr. John Brown in room 920. I am contacting you because Mr. Brown called me into his room a few minutes ago complaining of severe abdominal pain.



The background is when the nurse mentions information about the patient that the doctor needs to know to help identify the source of the problem and its potential solution. This includes the reason the patient was recently seen by the doctor and specific medical history about the patient. Only information related to the patient problem is mentioned.

Continuing on the example used above, here is an example of the background portion of SBAR playing out:

'He came to the hospital two days ago with appendicitis and had his appendix removed in the surgery you performed on him yesterday.'



The assessment is when the nurse recalls what was observed when checking the patient. This includes the information gathered during the physical examination through seeing, hearing, smelling, and touching. Information related to the problem can also be obtained from tools and equipment the nurse uses. The most common information that is obtained from patients are their vital signs: blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate. Nurses also ask the patient specific questions, and the responses are shared with the doctors.

To continue in our example:

'I found him lying in the bed groaning with his hand on his abdomen. He states the pain is worse today even after taking the pain medication you already ordered. His temperature is normal and the incision site looks good, but his blood pressure, heart rate, and respirations are very elevated.'



The recommendation is when the nurse suggests solutions to the problem. This part happens at the end of the conversation with the doctor. Requests for specific tests, medications, and treatments are made that might help. The nurse may also be an advocate by asking the doctor for specific things patients want and explanations about their conditions.

To finish with our example:

'Can we give him a stronger pain medication to see if that will help? He also wants to know if he can use a heating pad?'

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