Help your doctors and nurses work better together
Friday, June 15, 2018
A great hospital administrator is always looking for ways to improve patient care and satisfaction. One very important component toward achieving that goal is properly integrating the collaboration between doctors and nurses — but unfortunately, this key relationship is rarely optimized.
When doctors and nurses communicate fruitfully, care plans work well — yet a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that only 26 percent of analyzed patient records showed doctors and nurses using the same medical terms when logging in notes on patient care That indicates a true gap in communication.
How can you encourage your doctors and nurses to work in tandem more closely and effectively to help your patients achieve better outcomes? Try these research-proven strategies.
Employ both doctors and nurses on rounds.
A Penn State College of Medicine study found that when a medical team including a nurse visited patients on a daily basis, the patient felt more comfortable communicating about symptoms and treatment decision-making.
As nurses see their patients regularly and much more often than doctors do throughout the day, the sense of familiarity and trust they build is a powerful tool that can help the whole team truly listen to and understand a patient's wishes. Therefore, encourage each patient to express themselves and ask questions directly to their nurses, both on rounds and throughout their stay, if they feel most comfortable doing so.
Make sure your nurses and doctors properly and completely share documentation.
The Illinois-Chicago study also reported that while doctors' notes were often technical and filled with medical/disease terminology on a patient's record, nurses tended to note concrete and practical elements related to a patient's feelings, including when their patient's pain was acute.
Both approaches to noting a patient's case are essential for a full assessment of that patient's needs, of course. Always ensure that nurses are contributing fully each day to patient record documentation.
Surprisingly, this does not always happen in the detail it needs to, due to time constraints — double-check to make sure there is sufficient scheduling to allow for adequate record contribution by your nurses. Always stress the importance to your physicians of taking these notes into account.
Facilitate a good working relationship between your nurses and residents.
A study from Singapore recently found that junior doctors and nurses often don't work well collaboratively, due to factors like heavy workloads and the power differential between their roles. The researchers recommend that nurses should use their greater hands-on experience and take the lead in terms of patient care when working with residents to ensure the best care.
At the same time, your nurses should respect the input and knowledge each resident brings to each patient's case, and establish a supportive give-and-take with each resident so that all care decisions are mutually understood and effectively carried out.
Foster mutual respect.
Stress the importance of considerate give and take between your staff members, which will go a long way toward creating better collaboration between the physicians and nurses on your team.
A nurse's role isn't to work as a doctor's assistant (something some physicians forget, unfortunately); instead, he/she is an essential, insightful and wise provider. Likewise, doctors don't only see patients as numbers or cases, as some nurses perceive; most strive to provide compassionate help to each person they see.
Remind your staff that great care is their common goal — that bond will truly benefit all of your facility's patients.
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