Improving the Nurse to Nurse Handoff

Author(s): Carrie Clark

Seventy percent of errors or sentinel events are attributed to poor communication during nurse handoff (Small et al., 
2016). One identified barrier to poor communication is a standardized process for handoff (Stewart, 2017). Since 
communication is the foundation of patient care, it is crucial to provide accurate, up-to-date information in a timely 
manner to the oncoming nurse. The purpose of this project was to implement bedside nurse-to-nurse handoff reports 
using a standardized tool, the SBAR tool. This implementation took place in the emergency department, a complex 
environment where information can easily be miscommunicated or omitted due to the chaos of the setting. However, 
nurse-to-nurse handoff is significant in every department and should be consistent. Posters were placed in the 
department to remind staff of the SBAR tool. Nurses were instructed on the importance of proper handoff and 
educated on using the SBAR tool and performing bedside report by providing a mandatory learning experience to all 
nurses to education them on the SBAR tool, how to give a proper handoff, and tips for bedside reporting to help 
them be effective and efficient in their handoff. Improved handoff and communication between nurses are predicted 
to result in decreased incident reports and medication errors, as well as, increased patient satisfaction scores. Data 
will continue to be evaluated over a six-month period to assess these findings.