Effective communication is essential in critical care settings. Use of the SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) tool has been shown to standardize and improve communication among health care providers.

Local Problem

This quality improvement project was designed to improve communication in an intensive care unit that lacked a standardized communication protocol. Communication practices differed greatly between nurses and advanced practice providers. As a result, patient safety was put at risk owing to incomplete, inaccurate, or delayed information when clinical concerns were reported or escalated.


This project used a pre-post design in which surveys were used to gather information on staff perceptions of communication and collaboration between nurses and advanced practice providers before and after an educational intervention. The 2 groups received identical education on SBAR guidelines adapted for use in the intensive care unit setting and patient safety.


Results showed improvement in all areas of communication. Significant improvements were found on the General Perceptions subscale among advanced practice providers (P = .04) and among nurses (P = .007). In the combined study population, improvements were observed on all subscales, with significant results for the Open Communication (P = .03) and General Perceptions (P = .002) subscales. A significant increase was found in the percentage of nurses using the SBAR tool after the intervention (95%) compared with before the intervention (66%; P < .001).


Implementation of the SBAR communication tool significantly improved general perceptions of communication in this intensive care unit.

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