Bedside Shift Report (BSR) Can Save Lives


Shift reportHeart disease and cancer are the top two causes of death in the United States. Are preventable medical errors the third? According to one estimate, as many as 440,000 patients who are hospitalized each year suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death.

Bedside shift report (BSR) can prevent medical errors while improving patient safety and quality-of-care. BSR can also help to reduce hospital costs.

What Is BSR?

BSR is the change-of-shift report between the offgoing nurse and the oncoming nurse. Because BSR occurs at the patient’s bedside instead of at the nurse’s station, the patient is part of the process. Inclusion increases patient satisfaction, and, in some situations , can also provide family members with an opportunity to engage hospital staff. BSR also optimizes the role of nurses, who form the line of defense for patient safety.

BSR requires teamwork, planning, and education. Hospitals can adapt Joint Commission standards to meet the specific needs of their institutions, but may still struggle to receive buy-in from all stakeholders. That’s why the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has published an evidence-based guide to help hospitals work with patients and their families.

How BSR Works

According to AHRQ, BSR begins by introducing the nursing staff, patient, and family to each other. Nurses then open the electronic health record at the patient’s bedside and deliver a verbal report using the SBAR format, an acronym for Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation. BSR ends by reviewing the patient’s plan of care to-do list and identifying the patient’s and family’s needs and concerns.

Studies indicate that BSR increases patient satisfaction, decreases medication errors, and reduces patient falls. Less nursing overtime is required, which trims hospital operating costs. Still, some nurses have raised concerns that BSR could violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), especially in semi-private rooms. Nurses may also be required to answer lengthy questions, which increases SBAR time.

Has your healthcare facility implemented BSR? If not, are you ready to champion this potentially life-saving practice at your hospital?

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