Nurse-Physician Communications

schoulties hsBy Daniel L. Schoulties, MD, Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, Good Samaritan Hospital

Patients have many options when it comes to health care providers, and they rely on Premier Health for our high-quality, safe, and effective health care. As a team, we work together, always bring our “A” game, and adhere to our core values of respect, integrity, compassion, and excellence.

Patient care is a continuous effort. One critical component of delivering this service successfully is effective communication between physicians and nurses. Even with top-credentialed health care professionals, and state-of-the-art facilities, mistakes can be made. According to The Joint Commission, nearly 60 percent of medical errors are a direct result of communication breakdown1.

In an environment of constant interruption, it is often difficult to find time to properly communicate. Because physicians and nurses typically vary in their ideas about what constitutes good communication, both must be assertive in advocating for patient needs, so that each other clearly understands the issues in order to take appropriate action. Many times, they feel that their trusting relationship acts as authorization to independently make time-sensitive decisions. Unfortunately, these actions are often based on assumptions, and can lead to mistakes and delays in patient care.

Developing a method for effective dialogue throughout the course of care prevents costly errors, streamlines patient care, and demonstrates a united front among members of the health care team2. In order to enhance communication, refer to the “critical few,” including AIDET (acknowledge; introduce; duration; explanation, and “thank you”), as well as ARCC (ask; request; voice a concern; and chain of command). Among others, both tactics effectively facilitate healthy discourse, and improve all-around communication by establishing respect and encouraging professional partnerships.

Effective communication is the responsibility of every Premier Health team member and requires the efforts of everyone - physicians, nurses, front and back office staff, and management - openly engaging the team with ideas, concerns, and achievements on a regular basis, to reduce the likelihood of error and ensure the consistency of care at Premier Health.

  1. Woods, 2006
  2. Schmalenberg & Kramer, 2009.

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