In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Theresa Brown, an oncology nurse and author, discusses the importance of clear communication between doctors, nurses, and patients to ensure that patients comprehend diagnosis and treatment, and have a positive experience. These factors can ultimately improve patients’ health outcomes.
“A growing body of literature suggests that these clinical miscommunications matter, because the success of physician-patient interaction has a real effect on patients’ health,” Brown writes. “In a 2005 article … researchers at the University of Washington, claim that treatment outcomes are better when doctors show more empathy and take the time to make sure patients understand what’s going on.”
Brown, who authored Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between, has often seen situations where even when quality care is provided, a patient feels that they received poor care because the process of diagnosis and treatment was not handled properly and they became confused.
“Interestingly, patients in hospitals report more satisfying interactions with physicians when doctors sit down during rounds instead of standing,” Brown writes, citing a 2012 article co-written by nurse practitioner Kelli J. Swayden in Patient Education and Counseling. “Sitting gives the message ‘I have time,’ whereas doctors who stand communicate urgency and impatience.”
Hospitals are very busy and focused on “volume and flow” and billable procedures, however providers need to remember that taking time for the “human” element can ultimately improve patient outcomes, Brown concludes.
An INQRI-funded study “A Quality and Cost Analysis of Nurse Practice Predictors of Readiness for Hospital Discharge and Post-Discharge Outcomes” looked at how improving the hospital discharge process can improve patient outcomes and reduce unnecessary readmissions. Researchers at Marquette University, led by Marianne Weiss and Olga Yakusheva identified the contributions that nursing staff make to the quality of discharge teaching and the impact of that teaching on patient outcomes, readiness and readmission rates of patients who are discharged home.
They found that when units had more RN hours per patient day, fewer overtime hours and fewer vacancies, the discharge teaching was of higher quality, patients reported greater readiness for hospital discharge, and post-discharge utilization of readmission and emergency room visits was lower. The project findings are presented in a research brief on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's website.