Are You Communicating Effectively With Your Patients?
Throughout the years, I have discovered that effective communication with a patient is incredibly beneficial. Clearly, this is hindered when the patient you are caring for is obtunded, in a stupor, or unresponsive. However, we all are keenly aware that a majority of the patients we pick up and transport can communicate with us. So are you, are you communicating effectively?
In previous articles, I have talked about the importance of clear communication skills with our partner (https://heavyliesthehelmet.com/2019/05/20/aaron002/). Still, I did not discuss the critical points in effective patient communication and how it benefits patient outcomes and builds rapport.
Briefly, let me explain why this is critical, and I get it, you probably know this, but we need the information to process a potential treatment plan. Part of that is asking questions. Remember back to the classroom setting when we learned SAMPLE and OPQRST? Those handy mnemonics are helpful, but having the ability to ask them in a way that is clear, concise, and respectful will get you a lot farther.
Imagine a situation where you are with a patient who appears to be in some sort of distress, the patient is clutching their side and is tearful. All assumptions aside, you begin to ask, "what is going on?" How is that construed? It depends. Every situation is different, and your patient might be okay with that question or maybe not. Some people take things literally, for example, my 14year old son. If I ask him what is going, he will give me a literal reply, something to the effect of "sitting" because that is indeed what is going on. Anyway, the point is, is there a better or the best way to communicate with patients?
In a recent article by American Nurse Today, the author discusses some practical ways to provide better patient-centered communication. Not all of these will work, but reflecting upon them might just benefit you and your patient.
· Asking what your patients' concerns are
· Asking the patient if she has any questions
· Make eye contact, do not sit behind the patient
· Asking for clarification and understanding
o “Was I able to answer all of your questions?”
· And finally, listening, waiting for the patient to answer before starting in with your last question 
Give it a shot, and if it works great, if not, send us some feedback on what you have found to be successful for you on your rig. Thanks for reading, and as always, we look forward to having you back.
L. L. Smith, "Strategies for effective patient communication," American Nurse Today, 2018.