"ABC-SBAR" training improves simulated critical patient hand-off by pediatric interns

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2012 Jun;28(6):538-43. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3182587f6e.


Objectives: This study was done to assess whether a modified "ABC-SBAR" mnemonic (airway, breathing, circulation followed by situation, background, assessment, and recommendation) improves hand-offs by pediatric interns in a simulated critical patient scenario.

Methods: Each of 26 interns reviewed a scenario involving a decompensating pediatric patient and gave a simulated hand-off to a responder. They received a didactic session on ABC-SBAR, then performed a second hand-off using another scenario. Two blinded reviewers assessed 52 video-recorded hand-offs for inclusion, order, and elapsed time to essential hand-off information using a scoring tool.

Results: Mean score of hand-offs increased after ABC-SBAR training (preintervention: 3.1/10 vs postintervention: 7.8/10, P < 0.001). In hand-offs after ABC-SBAR training, the reason for the emergency call was more often prioritized before background information (preintervention: 4% vs postintervention: 81%, P < 0.001) and stated earlier (elapsed time preintervention: 19 seconds vs postintervention: 7 seconds, P < 0.001). Hand-offs including an airway or breathing assessment increased after training (preintervention: 35% vs postintervention: 85%, P = 0.001), and this information was also stated earlier (preintervention: 25 seconds vs postintervention: 5 seconds, P < 0.001). Total hand-off duration was increased (preintervention: 29 seconds vs postintervention: 36 seconds, P = 0.004).

Conclusions: Unstructured hand-off by interns in a simulated patient emergency emphasizes background information, leaving essential information (such as reason for the call and ABCs) delayed or omitted. ABC-SBAR was associated with improved inclusion and timeliness of essential information in simulated critical patient hand-offs by pediatric interns; however, hand-off duration was increased. Further studies are needed to elucidate optimal hand-off in an emergency situation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baltimore
  • Communication*
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Emergencies
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / therapy
  • Hospital Rapid Response Team
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Patient Simulation
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Reminder Systems*