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Nurses: Three Easy Ways to Prevent Miscommunication

Nurses working togetherThe following is a guest post from Mike Pedro of Magnatag Visible Systems.

Communication plays a critical role in the workplace — especially for healthcare professionals. The patient-to-practice relationship lies at the center of every healthcare facility, and without a solid stream of communication to help guide the process, an attempt to run a successful operation may become fruitless.

To help with this process, hospitals rely on the help of various whiteboard surfaces to help strengthen communication between nurses and their patients. Understanding how to make the most out of your whiteboard, along with practicing effective communication techniques, is an important step forward in becoming the best nurse possible!

Check out three ways nurses can become better at communicating with the help of hospital whiteboards and other practices.

Know how to use your bedside boards

One of the most common variations of whiteboards in the healthcare industry is a patient bedside board. Sometimes referred to as a bed-census board, patient bedside boards can provide you with an open line of discussion between other nurses in the building, patients and their families, and yourself. Bedside boards indicate a patient’s condition and can also be used as a way to welcome dialogue among a patient, his or her family, and the rest of the hospital staff.

Understanding how to use a bedside board plays a critical role in the ensuring the patient’s safety.  There are a multitude of caregivers and providers who care for one patient, so failing to properly communicate can lead to a negative outcome. Bedside boards are also important when giving report to the following nurse, granting you the opportunity to communicate everything that happened during your shift, as well as filling him or her in on prior history if this is the first time with a particular patient.

But beyond internal usage, bedside boards can work on a more intimate level, providing a sense of comfort to a patient’s family. Providing updates not only keeps your patient’s family at ease, but also helps to establish a sense of trust. A family can tell when a nurse cares, so even providing little status updates or friendly messages can go a long way.

Make eye contact during crossovers

More often than not you’ll find yourself in a rush to leave the workplace, darting away from your department and attempting to avoid any last-minute distractions that may pull you away from the parking garage. However, you should get in the habit of always establishing eye contact with whomever is in charge of your patient during the following shift.

Take time to explain your patient’s condition to the next nurse on duty and make eye contact so you can scan his or her face for any signs of confusion or uncertainty. I’ve spoken to a few nurses who recommend getting in this habit, as it ensures you have left your patient in the best possible care and puts your mind at ease after a long shift. Eye contact is one of the best ways to engage another person in conversation; you have their attention, and they will be listening.

Give your patient your full attention

Being a nurse can get a little hectic at times. Between checking in on patients, administering medication, and filling in charts, it can sometimes be difficult to give someone your full attention. You may find time to talk to your patients when filling out their daily charts, but giving them halfhearted attention can make them feel they’re in a juggling act. Allotting a few minutes each shift for some one-on-one time (when possible) can be extremely rewarding. You won’t be able to do this every day, or even every week, but establishing this routine will help your patients begin to feel more comfortable around you — which is never a bad thing!

About the author: Mike Pedro joined the Magnatag Visible Systems team right after graduating from St. John Fisher College. He’s an expert when it comes to the ins and outs of scheduling, communication, and productivity. He is also editor of Magnatag Insight.

About the author

Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.


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