The Importance of Staff Communication in Healthcare
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Explicit communication policies are pivotal to the success of every healthcare institution. Well-defined policies are beneficial to both patients and staff: patients are assured an accurate course of care, and staff is better positioned to deliver such care. Alternatively, a facility without defined healthcare staff communication practices as an essential part of care can negatively impact patient care.
“In a retrospective review of 14,000 in-hospital deaths, communication errors were found to be the lead cause, twice as frequent as errors due to inadequate clinical skill,” notes a study in the Clinical Biochemist Review.1
Healthcare professionals must recognize the importance of intrahospital communication. This includes communication within immediate departments and teams and communication with other areas within the same facility.
Intrahospital communication is any information shared within the same institution. This can include scheduling procedures, tests and appointments, coordinating room changes, and sharing patient information and records. When doctors, staff, and patients do not effectively share information, the efficiency of each process in the care plan decreases.2 When these processes are not conducted according to the defined procedure, it can cause delays and inaccuracies, which add time and cost – and even worse, can lead to medical errors in patient care.
When staff converses with one another, especially about patients and their care, it is preferred to be done in designated team areas, away from the view and earshot of patients. Team members can speak clearly and more frankly about a patient’s state without fear of the patient overhearing information prematurely or incorrectly or overhearing information about other patients.
One finding concluded that staff members preferred talking in team areas and did not prefer talking about patients in visually exposed areas. The study supported previous findings that lack of privacy from patients hindered communication between staff members.3
Regardless of the department or size of the institution, every health care facility must adopt methods of communicating information that are best suited for the accurate and secure care of its patients and the cohesiveness of staff communications. When a communication method fails, risks arise.
One healthcare staff communication system that ensures accurate and timely patient information is by using communication whiteboards. The healthcare communication solutions offered by Patient Care Boards include Patient Room Boards, Huddle Boards, Safety Protocol Boards, and Infection Control Boards all custom designed for and by Department/Specialty Practice.They have been implemented in many leading and well-known healthcare institutions (see patient care board stories here). Our boards deliver transparent communication by:
Providing staff with a better structure for support
Allowing a non-siloed approach in the sharing of the treatment plan
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