By Nicole Kraut RN
Effective communication is an essential component of quality health care. It is well known that there is a strong correlation between the communication skills of healthcare providers and patient health outcomes. Nurses are at the forefront of patient care; therefore, they are responsible for communicating patient information to any providers involved in a patient’s plan of care. It is essential to patient safety and outcomes that effective communication occurs between nurses and providers.
Why poor communication occurs
Poor communication between nurses and providers can occur for a variety of reasons, either intentionally or unintentionally. Healthcare can be very unpredictable, complicated, and stressful. Patient needs can arise unexpectedly and a patient’s condition can change very rapidly. The unpredictability and urgency that occurs when caring for patients can lead to unplanned communication between providers, which leads to a communication breakdown.
Too much info, too quickly
An example of a poor communication pattern that occurs during a stressful situation is when a provider provides as much information as possible, as quickly as possible. For example, a patient’s health is rapidly declining. The nurse phones the physician and quickly provides as much information as possible, such as vital signs, the patient’s history, medications given, and any events leading up to the patient’s current state. While all of this information is important for the provider to know, any lack of organization or logic to what the nurse is saying may cause the provider to lose attention and dismiss the nurse’s concerns.
Hesitation due to power differential
Another poor communication pattern that occurs is when a nurse is hesitant to ensure their concerns are being heard and acted on. Unfortunately, a culture of hierarchy and power differential between nurses and physicians still exists in many institutions. If a nurse makes a recommendation or brings an issue to the attention of the physician, and their recommendation or concern is dismissed, many nurses many not feel comfortable repeating themselves.
The impact of poor communication
Poor communication between nurses and other health care providers can have a significant negative effect on patient safety, quality of care, patient outcomes, and patient as well as staff satisfaction. An organization should ensure several interventions are in place in order to ensure effective communication between health care providers. Leaders should promote an organizational culture which is patient centered and focused on safety. In addition, leaders should be supportive of open communication and promote the use of communication tools between health care providers. Once interventions are in place to break down the patterns of poor communication, safe, patient centered care can occur.
About the Author
Nicole Kraut is a nurse working in Chicago, Illinois, who writes for us regularly about her experiences as an early-to-mid career nurse. She has been a RN for over five years.
Nicole graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Loyola University Chicago and recently obtained a Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Nursing Education from Grand Canyon University. She “was inspired to become a nurse because I wanted to work in a career field in which I could make a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. I feel nursing is my vocation and am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience in order to positively influence others.”Contact HealthStream to speak to a solutions expert learn more about our courses related to Healthcare Professional Training.
HealthStream’s learning management system and comprehensive suite of competency management tools empower your healthcare workforce to deliver the best patient care.View All Learning & Performance
When you enact HealthStream's quality compliance solutions, you can do so with the confidence your healthcare organization will meet all standards of care.View All Quality & Compliance
Fulfill compliance requirements with a variety of programs and courseware designed to address critical regulatory requirements as well as educate staff to recognize and mitigate risks.View All Products
HealthStream offers professional training and education on how to best optimize your reimbursement process within your healthcare organization.View All Reimbursement
Improve the preparedness of your staff, increase survival rates, and cut costs with the advanced resuscitation training services from HealthStream.View All Resuscitation
Expand the decision-making skills and effectiveness of your healthcare workforce with HealthStream's clinical development programs and services.View All Clinical Development
Delivers everything you need to request, gather, and validate information about a provider to create a single source of truth for downstream processes.View All Credentialing
Make sure your healthcare staff can schedule out appointments and work schedules with ease using HealthStream's line of software solutions.View All Scheduling & Capacity Management