Wessex PSC is helping organisations across Wessex to reduce harm related to communication failure by improving the use of safety communication techniques such as SBAR, SBARD and ATMIST.
Improving safety critical spoken communication
Every 36 hours the NHS deals with over a million patients and each of these contacts probably generates discussion between staff about a patient’s care. Yet we know from serious incident investigations that communication failure is a common finding: we have come to expect direct or indirect reference to communication in most investigation reports. (NHSI 4/12/18)
NHSI commissioned an interdisciplinary external working group to provide a better understanding of the issues surrounding both good and poor spoken communication of safety critical information. This research examines the issues surrounding both good and poor spoken communication of safety critical information. It identifies six key areas that present challenges to spoken communication. The findings can be viewed here.
SBAR communication tool (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation)
SBAR is an easy to use, structured form of communication that enables information to be transferred accurately between individuals. SBAR was originally developed by the United States military for communication on nuclear submarines, but has been successfully used in many different healthcare settings, particularly relating to improving patient safety.
SBAR consists of standardised prompt questions in four sections to ensure that staff are sharing concise and focused information. It allows staff to communicate assertively and effectively, reducing the need for repetition and the likelihood for errors. As the structure is shared, it also helps staff anticipate the information needed by colleagues and encourages assessment skills. Using SBAR prompts staff to formulate information with the right level of detail.
More information about SBAR can be found on the NHSI website and the ACT Academy SBAR tool can be downloaded from the resources area on the right hand side of this page.
SBAR Training Guide (NHSIII)
This SBAR Training Guide has been developed by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement in conjunction with clinicians and other frontline staff in the NHS.
The guide will help develop an understanding of the SBAR approach and support the planning and delivery of SBAR training events – either as a classroom event, in a clinical setting, as an informal session or as part of a more structured learning curriculum.
The NHSIII SBAR Training Guide can also be downloaded from the resource zone on the right hand side of this webpage.
Using SBAR in the Emergency Department (East Midlands Emergency Medicine Educational Media)
In a series of short Youtube videos ED Consultant Pro Mukherjee at Leicester Royal Infirmary briefly defines the SBAR terms and explains how healthcare practitioners can use it communicate effectively within the Emergency Department.
Impact of the communication and patient hand-off tool SBAR on patient safety: a systematic review (OpenBMJ)
This review found moderate evidence for improved patient safety through SBAR implementation, especially when used to structure communication over the phone. However, there is a lack of high-quality research on this widely used communication tool.
ATMIST communication tool (age, time, mechanism, injury, signs, and treatment)
Early recognition of life threatening sepsis is essential to enable the Ambulance Service to initiate life-saving therapy and issue a pre-arrival alert to the hospital’s emergency department.
Crews use a systematic handover tool called ATMIST (age, time, mechanism, injury, signs, and treatment) to convey details of septic symptoms to the receiving Emergency Department which will trigger the activation of Surviving Sepsis Clinical Care Pathway upon arrival at the Emergency Department. This pathway has been demonstrated to significantly improve patient survival.
Future opportunities and priorities to further improve patient care in the community - South Central Ambulance Service http://www.scas.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/Clinical-Strategy.pdf - accessed December 2018.
If you have any questions about the Wessex Patient Safety Collaborative's Deterioration workstream or any other aspects of the Wessex PSC, please contact us via the link below: