Communication Strategies in Clinical Settings
Communication Strategies in Clinical Settings
Concise and accurate communication is a very important aspect in any professional forum and this is particularly important in the case of nurses. Nurses are required to communicate with colleagues, like doctors and other nurses, as well as patients and their relatives. In order to make sure all messages are well understood, nurses need to be able to convey their meanings precisely and without room for error because misinterpretation, in some cases, could be fatal. This paper will briefly discuss the variety of levels and ways nurses can use multiple strategies and venues within a clinical setting to communicate messages. The various ramifications of miscommunication, including life and legal aspects, will be discussed and methods of achieving the most effective levels of communication will be suggested.
Documentation of events and various forms of information is a large aspect of the duties of medical professionals, particularly nurses. As the foundation of communication, language plays a primary role in the recipient’s interpretation of the message and largely determines whether the meaning is accurately understood (Allen, Chapman, O’Connor, & Francis, 2007). This method is commonly used to facilitate quality of care and notify and teach patients about the specifics of their care (Allen, Chapman, O’Connor, & Francis, 2007). Documentation is also the main method of communication used to convey pertinent details to other professionals about the patient, internal functions, and other memos or vital updates (Allen, Chapman, O’Connor, & Francis, 2007). Considering the frequency in which legal actions are taken against medical professionals, it is highly important that this type of communication, which is admissible in most legal forums, be as close to perfectly accurate as possible so that it will be an asset to the issuing professional instead of a detriment (Allen, Chapman, O’Connor, & Francis, 2007).
In this legal context, it is also prudent that confidentiality measures are upheld and no inappropriate details’ regarding the customer’s health status or any other pieces of sensitive information is distributed to inappropriate or unauthorized persons. According to the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Council (ANMC) (2005a), it is the duty of each practicing professional to maintain confidentiality when discussing a patient’s needs and progress. The ANMC (2005b) also declare in their Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia that, in order to provide value in their provisioning of care,
“Nurses contribute to the confidential reporting of adverse events and errors, and to organizational processes for the open disclosure of these events to persons affected during the course of their care” (p.9).
Specification of the proper methods of operation regarding the sharing of patient treatment information or any other details is intended to ensure the safety of the patient as well as protect them from discrimination because of their health status. Ethical management of patient information is a chief responsibility of nurses’ (ANMC, 2005b).
Open Disclosure, Risk Management, & Duty of Care
According to The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care (2003), open disclosure and risk management are additional concerns related nursing practices and the ability of health care professionals to initiate discourse with patients and their designated support person after a traumatic health problem. The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care (2003) indicates that the term open disclosure consists of discussing the event with the patient and whomever they authorize, factors that may have induced or contributed to the onset of the event, and ways to try and prevent future occurrences. Open disclosure is also meant to offer supervision to diminish the risk of repetition of health problems by using available details, allowing enhancement and support of social awareness regarding health care safety (The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2003). As a provision of the nurse’s duty of care, informed consent aims to avoid blame and focus on fostering an environment conducive to the provisioning of best nursing practices (Tabak & Zvi, 2008). Fulfillment of a nurse’s duty of care also includes obtaining clarification about treatments or procedures that could potentially perform more harm than good to the patient and any other aspects of providing care to the patient (Tabak & Zvi, 2008).
The possibility of fatal outcomes due to miscommunication makes it vitally important that nurses make all their messages clear, concise, and eliminate the likelihood of misinterpretation. Using common language that is familiar and universal within medical practices and being able to coherently explain these concepts to patients and their relatives will reduce the probability that the nurse will be misunderstood or their message will be interpreted incorrectly. Taking precautions when verbalizing messages and making sure to use consistent terms will also help make sure that communications are understood.
Allen, S., Chapman, Y., O’Connor, M., & Francis, K. (2007). The importance of language for nursing: Does it convey commonality of meaning and is it important to do so. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 24(4), pp. 47-51. Retrieved from http://www.ajan.com.au/Vol24/Vol24.4-9.pdf
Australian Nursing & Midwifery Council (ANMC). (2005a). National Competency Standards for the Registered Nurse. Developed under the auspices of Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council, Royal College of Nursing, Australia, Australian Nursing Federation. Retrieved from http://www.capdivgp.com/content/Document/Practice%20Nurses/Competency_standards_RN.pdf
Australian Nursing & Midwifery Council (ANMC). (2005b). Code of ethics for nurses in Australia. Developed under the auspices of Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council, Royal College of Nursing, Australia, Australian Nursing Federation. Retrieved from http://www.nrgpn.org.au/index.php?element=ANMC+Code+of+Ethics
Tabak, N. & Zvi, M.R. (2008, March-May). When parents refuse a sick teenager the right to give informed consent: the nurse’s role. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25(3), pp. 106-111. Retrieved from http://www.ajan.com.au/Vol25/AJAN_25-3_Tabak.pdf
The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care. (July 2003). Open disclosure standard: A national standard for open communication in public and private hospitals, following an adverse event in health care. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.wentwest.com/public/documents/OpenDisclosureStandards.pdf