Atlantis Medical News

Good communication can improve patient’s health

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24 JUL 2018

Communication should be at the heart of every good organisation and there is no doubt that improved communication should be an aim of the NHS. There are many issues that the NHS needs to deal with but improving communication between departments could lead to a better level of care for patients, and the findings of a recent study suggest that improved communication could enhance the level of care being provided to injured and critically ill patients.

This research has been carried out at the university of Stirling. It was found that ensuring the accuracy and quality of information relating to patients during the handover process has a positive impact on results. This won’t come as a surprise to most people and it could be argued that common sense would lead to this conclusion. However, with convincing evidence stating that clear and accurate information can positively impact on people’s health, it is vital that NHS employees and departments take strides in improving communication.

It was reported that most information during the handover was communicated verbally and then the person was reliant on remembering what they were told. This is a concerning situation because this can create confusion and incorrect data being recalled. It was also cited that interruptions can act as a barrier to correct information being passed on.

Issues that were highlighted in the study include:
• Variability in handover mnemonic
• A lack of co-ordination between the responders
• A lack of structured process

A lack of consistency in how information is shared is a clear barrier to successful information passing. Given the importance of clear instructions being passed, there is a need for improved communication to be developed within the NHS.

Action has already been taken on these findings
The findings have led to changes with the Scottish Ambulance Service making alterations to the way they communicate in critical situations. The organisation has introduced a handover card and a pre-alert card. With a template for communication, vital information should be collated and the person receiving the information should have a better understanding of what the issue with the patient is.

Dr David Fitzpatrick, who is the senior lecturer who led the research work, stated; “Poor communication during patient handover is recognised within international literature as one of the root causes of a significant proportion of preventable deaths. However, little was known about either prehospital or emergency department handover processes in Scotland.”

At Atlantis Medical, we understand the importance of clear and concise communication. In a busy ward or when action needs to be taken at short notice, it is vital that information is passed on correctly and accurately. Therefore, improved communication methods has to be seen as a positive thing and hopefully this is something that can be replicated across the country.

While each situation can have its own issues, which means that a template solution isn’t always the best way to communicate information, it can only be hoped that this form of communication creates consistency during the handover process.


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