Friday, February 5, 2016
Communication for Better Care
Respect and Communication in Medical Care
It’s not always about medical errors. There are many opportunities for care to be less than OK when we use the healthcare system. I have said it before, and I will say it again; no two cases are identical when it comes to unplanned results. So many problems can stem back to communication, and poor communication can be perceived as poor care.
A man does not want to leave the hospital and waits for a conversation with the social worker. Hours go by and he is still waiting. A person with nothing to do counts the minutes while the social worker is trying to help, without reporting back, the patient feels ignored. The hospital visit begins to spiral out of control because the patient is angry.
A patient has questions but the nurse leaves the room before he gets to ask. Now he feels ignored.
A patient needs to use the bathroom. When it takes too long, according to the patient, for someone to come, the patient feels ignored and neglected. An apology could have helped the patient feel respected. If the CNA was apologetic instead of annoyed, the patient may have actually been sympathetic to the overworked nurse assistant.
How patients are treated very often make up the patient experience. Kindness and respect can go a long way and may actually change an outcome. A nurse who is rushed, a doctor who is not approachable may be closing doors to a patient sharing important information.
Hospitality in healthcare, whether a smile or hello need to be taught early in training and reinforced constantly. Patients and their family should “assume good intentions” and give staff an opportunity to be kind and respectful and be kind and respectful back.
As an advocate, the intervention may be just to keep communication open, apologize for each side, and remind each party of the stresses during this time. We should not be telling someone not to be angry, but instead acknowledge the anger and frustration and then offer to help get answers. Telling someone how to feel is once again taking their independence away. Allow a patient to be angry and frustrated. Once their feelings are justified, they can usually be easily become more reasonable.