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Communication Tool Empowers Nurses; Boosts Pt Safety

Communication Tool Empowers Nurses; Boosts Pt Safety

LAS VEGAS—A structured communication tool helps oncology nurses effectively convey information and concerns to physicians when a patient's condition changes or a patient's care is in transition, which can promote patient safety and quality patient outcomes, according to a report presented at the 32nd Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society (abstract 2143).

"JCAHO has determined that 70% of sentinel events are directly related to ineffective and poor communication between multidisciplinary healthcare workers," lead author Monique Willingham, RN, BSN, told ONI in an interview. She therefore took an opportunity to obtain training in a structured, systematic communication format called SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) (see Table).

This format is modeled on aviation and military procedures for handoffs and was developed in response to a major plane crash caused by poor communication, she explained. It ties together six components: patient safety, multidisciplinary communication, empowerment of providers, problem solving, standardization of communication handoffs, and flattening of the staff hierarchy.

Three-Phase Training Program

Ms. Willingham then developed an SBAR competency training program for the nurses on her inpatient oncology unit at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The program has three phases, she said:

• A group education phase, during which nurses are introduced to the communication method.

• A one-on-one education phase, during which they receive training and engage in role play scenarios to build their comfort with the method.

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