Improving Nurse-Physician Communication
March 20, 2015 by Vickie Anenberg
Physicians and nurses have long been at odds when trying to communicate effectively in a hospital environment. In response, hospitals have implemented policies designed to mitigate differences that could lead to patient care and safety issues. In spite of these efforts, poor communication between doctors and nurses remains widespread throughout the healthcare continuum.
Hospitals & Health Networks has posted an article that is actually a detailed case study of how one unnamed facility overcame long-term communications problems by using a methodical process provided by an external consulting firm. The main challenges to success were not uncommon: a resistance to change and a lack of trust.
To overcome these challenges, the hospital adopted a five-month program that included coaching at multiple levels and an assessment of conflict behavior. The goals were to improve self-awareness and positive behaviors, and to establish a working relationship in which the nurses and physicians were receptive to listening to the others’ opinions.
Because the challenges that physician-nurse teams experience are relatively common in hospitals, the success factors are also ubiquitous. They include:
- Actively engaging the chief medical and chief nursing officers.
- Team design and implementation of a high-impact project.
- Leadership that is receptive to change, with the ability to move the program forward.
According to the case study, this program yielded results that were not previously achieved. The nurses and doctors listened to each other, approached issues in a more constructive manner, and agreed to make problem-solving a team effort. You can read all of the case study’s details here.
The importance of physician-nurse communication is a critical factor affecting quality care, safety, and the satisfaction of both patients and clinicians. Quality staffing, having the right person with the right skills in the right job is the best place to start.
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