The need to improve safety in American healthcare institutions has attracted the close attention of many public organizations. For instance, the Joint Commission (2018) identifies a set of goals required for reducing the threats to which patients may be exposed. This paper will be focused on such an objective as the improvement of communication between staff members. In particular, it is critical to discuss two evidence-based practices that are useful in attaining this goal. Furthermore, one should show how nurses will support the adoption of these practices in medical institutions. Overall, these professionals will act as intermediaries who will establish stronger connections between patients and various members of the healthcare team.
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The Concept of Evidence-Based Practice and Its Relevance to Communication
The notion of evidence-based practice (EBP) is closely related to the goals identified by the Joint Commission. EBP can be defined as a set of activities aimed at integrating the most recent and reliable research in the decision-making of healthcare professionals (Hoffman, Bennett, & Del Mar 2013). Medical workers can rely on EBP to analyze their communication in clinical settings. Insufficient exchange of information is reported to carry many negative implications for patients.
In particular, one should focus on medical errors leading to complications, injuries, and even deaths (Stapley et al., 2018). Therefore, it is essential to find those approaches that can foster communication among caregivers. Healthcare professionals should adopt those practices whose benefits have been shown by reliable studies (Hoffman et al., 2013). If hospitals fail to perform this task, patients will remain exposed to many risks. Moreover, medical institutions will have to incur substantial costs resulting from lawsuits. There are several methods that should be considered by nurses and other healthcare professionals.
Existing Ways of Improving Communication in Clinical Settings
Researchers have developed several strategies that can facilitate the exchange of information between caregivers. One of them is the use of structured handoff reports in which patients are actively engaged (Taylor, 2015). The main peculiarity of this approach is that a new member of the healthcare team should always receive certain pieces of information (Taylor, 2015). For example, this professional should be told about the diagnosis given by physicians, patients’ allergies, his/her vital signs, current symptoms, the recommended course of treatment, and other details needed for taking proper decisions (Taylor, 2015).
The new healthcare provider is also expected to meet a patient who may tell about any changes in his/her state (Taylor, 2015). This approach is reported to minimize the risk of information loss and avoid various medical errors (Taylor, 2015). It has already been adopted by some hospitals in the United States.
Nursing professionals will play a critical role in supporting the adoption of this evidence-based practice. Firstly, these medicals workers will regularly communicate with patients and ensure that their concerns and needs are known to other caregivers. For instance, they will inform physicians about possible changes in the physical and mental state of patients. Additionally, they will interact with physicians and discuss those issues that should be communicated to new members of the healthcare team.
Sometimes, they will have to ask additional questions if they think that a critical piece of information has been omitted. Finally, they will alert other healthcare professionals about the key issues relevant to the patient’s needs. To a large degree, they will act as the intermediaries between different professionals who are responsible for treating the patient.
Additionally, researchers advocate the strategy known as huddles or regular daily meetings of the healthcare team. During these meetings, medical workers can discuss the current needs of patients (Rodriguez, Meredith, Hamilton, Yano, & Rubenstein, 2015). Furthermore, they will identify those individuals who require additional attention (Rodriguez et al., 2015). For instance, some people struggling with multiple co-morbidities can be more vulnerable to the risks posed by inadequate exchange of information. Medical workers will also speak about those issues that are unclear to them (Stapley et al., 2018).
For instance, they can make inquiries about the handoff information that may be missing. The use of huddles can produce several significant benefits. Firstly, this strategy ensures that no member of the healthcare team is excluded from the discussion (Rodriguez et al., 2015). Moreover, this approach is helpful in removing the confusion caused by the lack of clear goals and instructions. Thus, it should be considered by hospital administrators and other medical workers.
In this case, nurses will also be instrumental in ensuring that no important information is disregarded. They will interact with patients and their relatives to learn about the major concerns of these people. They will speak about these concerns during huddles if they are overlooked by other caregivers. Furthermore, they will raise the alarm about the issues that can cause misunderstanding of the members of the healthcare team. Finally, they will talk to other nurses to ensure that these people can see the most pressing and complex tasks. Overall, the main function of nurses will be to foster communication between healthcare teams and patients.
Ethical Comportment Apprenticeship
The focus on EBP will significantly influence my professional activities as a registered nurse. In particular, I will take into account available research findings to assess my current practices and decisions. I will try to determine if they are consistent with the recommendations that have already been tested in various clinical settings. In my opinion, EBP will prompt me to reach higher professional standards. Additionally, I will pay more attention to the importance of communication in the workplace. Some evidence-based practices focus on proper interactions between caregivers. In many cases, this aspect is vital for avoiding dangerous medical errors and delays.
The implementation of EBPs is one of the ethical responsibilities that nurses and other healthcare workers should fulfill. Patients put trust in the competence of these professionals. They expect that medical organizations rely on the safest and most effective methods that can ensure the best treatment outcomes. Moreover, they believe that physicians and nurses apply existing research findings to improve their work. The failure to do it can be viewed as the betrayal of patients’ trust. Additionally, it can be seen as the waste of public funds given to healthcare organizations. Thus, medical workers are ethically obliged to study EBPs and adopt them.
Nurses can help healthcare institutions attain safety goals identified by the Joint Commission. One of such objectives is to improve communication between caregivers. Nurses can act as coordinators and intermediaries between patients and physicians. In particular, they can ensure no vital piece of information is missing. In this way, they will prevent patients from being exposed to the risks resulting from miscommunication.
Hoffman, T., Bennett, S., & Del Mar C. (2013). Evidence-based practice across the health professions (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.
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Joint Commission. (2018). Hospital national patient safety goals. Web.
Rodriguez, H., Meredith, L., Hamilton, A., Yano, E., & Rubenstein, L. (2015). Huddle up!: The adoption and use of structured team communication for VA medical home implementation. Healthcare Management Review, 40(4), 286-299.
Stapley, E., Sharples, E., Lachman, P., Lakhanpaul, M., Wolpert, M., & Deighton, J. (2018). Factors to consider in the introduction of huddles on clinical wards: Perceptions of staff on the SAFE programme. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 30(1), 44-49.
Taylor, J. (2015). Improving patient safety and satisfaction with standardized bedside handoff and walking rounds. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 19(4), 414-416.