Improving Healthcare Provider Communication During Patient Change of Unit

Tonja Padgett Padgett, Walden University


Healthcare workers depend on receiving appropriate communication during a hand-off process to guide patient care; however, using multiple communications methods during the hand-off process between units can lead to missed information, adverse patient events, and a decrease in patient safety. Guided by Rosswurm and Larrabee's framework, a pilot study was conducted to evaluate nurses' perceptions of communication during the hand-off process. An online survey was distributed to 280 nurses from the ICU, Intermediate-ICU (I-ICU), and Acuity Adaptable (AA) unit to evaluate their perceptions of the hand-off process before and after an online educational module regarding a standardized situation-background-assessment-recommendation (SBAR) process based on the IHI SBAR Toolkit. At least 25% of the nurses from each unit completed the surveys. The nurses' perceptions had minimal change between the before and after surveys (sending patient communication scored 42% and 35% as above average while receiving patient communication scored 25% and 35% as above average). Nurses reported that receiving a thorough report using SBAR or an oral report facilitated good communication during hand-off while not receiving a report using SBAR or receiving no report at all contributed to poor communication during hand-off. The results indicate the need to address proper and consistent use of SBAR during hand-offs throughout the hospital system. Standardizing the communication process during the hand-off process can contribute to positive social change by improving patient safety during hospitalization.