Poor communication between healthcare providers including nurses and physicians has been linked to various types of patient safety events. As a patient advocate it is important that nurses ‘speak up’ for their patients and convey critical information accurately and timely. During a typical patient admission, many different units may care for a patient transferring care from one clinical unit to another. Continuity of care depends on the communication of various medical information, plan of care and response to treatments to ensure safe and appropriate care; providing information in a concise manner is important in reducing the risk of errors. Communication problems frequently lead to serious safety events which makes it a high-risk process.
What is good communication? Clear, accurate communication that conveys the patient’s clinical story and ensures the appropriate treatment and care for that patient.
What is meant by hand-off communication? Hand-off is the process of communicating patient information from one care provider to another. Examples include: nurse to nurse shift report, between levels of care, nurses and physicians, care management staff and other care providers, and care providers to patient/family.
Strategies for good communication:
¬ Use clear language – avoid slang terms
¬ Limit interruptions
¬ Standardize routine reports, such as shift to shift or unit to unit, such as SBAR technique
¬ Use tools and technology as available – standardized report tools such as the trip ticket and
Kardex, electronic charting and portable phones
¬ Provide an opportunity for the receiver to ask questions
¬ Repeat back information such as orders or diagnostic results
Keeping patients safe involves more than keeping patients free from physical or
psychological harm but communicating important information in a way that promotes
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