Medicine Information

Patient Communication: Picking Up Where Medicine Leaves Off


We've all seen patients who were far beyond the reach of medical treatment suddenly defy the odds and recover. We've also seen patients who were well on the road to recovery, take a turn for the worse for seemingly no reason at all. No matter what the technology or how terrific we are at our jobs, sometimes medicine just isn't enough.

Case in point, a few years ago, I saw a woman in her sixties after she had had a moderate CVA. No matter what her doctors did for her, she still wouldn't regain consciousness - defying explanation. Her daughter was thousands of miles away at the time and when the doctor reached her, he told her that her mother mighty not live long enough for her to get to her side. After several minutes, the daughter finally convinced the head nurse to put a phone up to her mother's ear, so she could talk to her. The nurse put the phone by the patient's ear and could hear her daughter talking to her, telling her that she was on her way and that everything was going to be fine. The moment her patient heard her daughter's voice, the nurse watched in amazement as her vitals stabilized, her eye lids began to flutter and her eyes opened, looking straight up at the nurse! Two weeks later, she was out of the hospital and on her way to rehab.

That's the miracle of communications.

Whether a family member, a friend or just a familiar face, our patients need to have the people they love surrounding them, when they're ill, in pain, or afraid. As caregivers, it's part of our job to realize that patients might be too ill or physically unable to initiate the contact they so desperately need, on their own.

I wish that were the end of the story. A few years later, the same woman was injured after a bad fall and taken to a different hospital. Despite being in stable and then good condition, a few days later a lack of the most basic medical care caused the woman to spiral into critical condition. When the hospital called her daughter to notify her of her mother's hospitalization days later, she learned that her mother was now unconscious and may not survive. While trying to get a flight back, she begged the nursing staff to put a phone next to her mother's ear, so she could talk to her, possibly for the last time. But at this hospital, the nurses and doctor refused. In fact her doctor said that she was suddenly opening her eyes and looking around. But despite her daughter's pleas to let her talk to her mom while she could still hear her, he tells her that he has no way to get a phone to an ICU patient. "We'll try and figure something out in the morning," he says. Unfortunately the patient didn't have that much time and she died hours later, never again hearing her daughter's voice.

The next time you're caring for a patient with compromised communication ability, take a moment to see their surroundings from his perspective.

If your patient can speak, is the telephone close enough to them?

Do they need help dialing, or able to see well enough to read a number out of their address book?

If your patient is unable to hold a telephone would they benefit from a speakerphone?

If your patient can't speak, have a patient representative or volunteer ask them to write the name of someone that they would like to have called for them and hold the phone up to their ear to facilitate communication.

For patients who cannot speak, patient Internet access can be a real lifesaver, because they can type an email message or have one typed for them.

Is your patient unable to see or unable to hear? Then take a moment to call a department or caregiver who can bridge those problems to enhance communication.

Since many hospitals still don't have a means of patient communication in the ICU, you may have to get a bit more creative for patients in care units.

Many hospitals now have low emission wireless phones that can be used in critical care units. Wireless web pads also work well, or what about a regular phone, kept at the nurses' station that can be plugged into an outlet in the patient rooms when needed. Communication isn't just a patient's right - for many it can be their only link to the outside world, or a life-renewing source of strength and love.

Combine that with terrific medical care and watch the miracles flow.

For tools you and your staff can use to facilitate patient communication download a free copy of the Seven Steps to Successful Notification System, in PDF format, at the Next of Kin Education Project web site. Along with the Information Kit, you'll find patient chart pages and notification worksheets using the Seven Steps, that you can purchase and customize to use as part of your own charting system. You'll find them on the NOKEP web site along with reminder products like mouse pads, posters and coffee mugs, to keep the Seven Steps at your staff's fingertips.

Laura Greenwald, CEO/The Next of Kin Education Project nokepinfokit@juno.com

The Seven Steps Information Kit can be downloaded free of charge at http://clik.to/7steps The Reminder Products can be purchased at our NOKEP store http://www.cafeshops.com/7steps


MORE RESOURCES:
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news


The Guardian

Adam Kay: 'If I had kids I would put them off studying medicine'
The Guardian
Kay had enjoyed a longstanding interest in comedy, performing in medical student revues, and later in corporate gigs for pharmaceutical companies. He'd also been on Radio 4 and performed at the Edinburgh festival, so comedy was the obvious way to go ...



Florida Flambeau

FSU College of Medicine hosts World AIDS Day vigil
Florida Flambeau
From 2008 to 2010, there were about 32 new HIV cases and 19 new AIDS cases in Leon County. During this time period, Leon County reported 1,392 cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. Gonorrhea and syphilis rates are higher in this county than ...

and more »


Salt Lake Tribune

Commentary: The Tribune was wrong. Medicine often involves a risk to the patient.
Salt Lake Tribune
(Courtesy of the Utah Department of Health) A health department initiative called Talk to Your Pharmacist placed stickers on bottles to prompt prescribers to talk to their pharmacist about the risk of using opioids. By Lynn Webster | For The Tribune ...



The Hindu

'Exciting careers beyond engineering and medicine'
The Hindu
In a State where a huge chunk of student population go towards engineering and medicine, choosing a course other than the two requires a certain aptitude. It's the aptitude that matters when choosing a career, experts from various fields advised ...



KFSN-TV

New Treatment for Neuropathy: Medicine's Next Big Thing?
KFSN-TV
Thirty percent of all Americans will be affected by peripheral neuropathy, a condition that impacts nerves leading to the arms and legs. (KFSN). KFSN. By Margot Kim. Saturday, December 09, 2017 11:48PM. Thirty percent of all Americans will be affected ...



Rethink Healthcare: Government hospitals must provide quality, affordable medicine
Economic Times (blog)
Delhi government's decision to cancel the licence of Max hospital, Shalimar Bagh, for negligence resulting in the death of a premature newborn – the baby was declared dead by the hospital even though he was alive at the time he was given to his parents ...

and more »


New York Times

What Doctors Should Ignore
New York Times
Those variants are enriched in people of African ancestry. Girish N. Nadkarni, a kidney specialist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, explained to me that scientists think this may be because those variants protect against the ...



EurekAlert (press release)

Landmark CAR-T cancer study published in the New England Journal of Medicine
EurekAlert (press release)
IMAGE: This is how CAR-T cell therapy harnesses a patient's immune system to fight cancer. view more. Credit: Loyola Medicine. MAYWOOD, IL - Loyola University Medical Center is the only Chicago center that participated in the pivotal clinical trial of ...
Loyola Medicine Oncologist Patrick Stiff, MD, Co-Author of Landmark @NEJM CAR-T Study, Offers Measured ...Newswise (press release)

all 5 news articles »


HuffPost

Medicine And Why Net Neutrality Matters
HuffPost
Recently, the library at Einstein, where I work as a medical librarian, experienced a momentary internet outage. In that instant, everything seemed to stop in its tracks. Medical students preparing to take their STEP 1 Board exams couldn't finish their ...

and more »


Daily Mail

HEALTH: Nature's medicine for sore joints
Daily Mail
When financier John Carey, then 35, woke up one night in 2002 with a searing pain in the ball of his left foot, the last thing on his mind was gout. 'I'd been training hard the day before – I practise judo and ran marathons – and thought I must have ...


Google News

home | site map | Dr. Thad Thomas
© 2006