Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Project – Full Written

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Committee Chair

Nicole Waters


This DNP Project explored the impact of introducing a communication template for emergency department (ED) nurses to use during handoff when caring for psychiatric patients. This need was identified as ED nurses are now caring for psychiatric patients for longer periods of time in the ED setting, sometimes weeks to months, due to limited inpatient mental health resources and resources in the community. ED nurses’ perceptions were surveyed and the need for a standardized, yet flexible communication template was identified. The literature was reviewed, and no such template was identified specific to ED nurses caring for the psychiatric patient population. Using the Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation (SBAR) nursing communication template found in the literature, the project administrator developed a template, SAFEPLAN, specific for ED nurses to use when caring for psychiatric patients to provide a structured handoff report. The nursing staff at the study site were educated and the template was introduced to determine its impact in the ED. Nurses’ perceptions related to consistency of report, clarity of report, and patient and department safety were measured. Additionally, the perceived usefulness (PU) and perceived ease of use (PEU) of the SAFEPLAN template were measured.