In hospitals, there seems to be an unspoken hierarchy where doctors reign supreme. It may be understandable for some since they make the diagnosis and treatments. However, some nurses find this social ladder quite intimidating making communicating effectively with doctors a frustrating task.
According to a study published by Christine Jones, et al. in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, a lack of communication between hospital physicians and primary care providers leads to a higher risk of readmission. Therefore, if we are to deliver the best care to our patients we should seek ways in which we can improve our interactions with the doctors we work with. Below are tips you can utilise to develop your techniques for communicating effectively with doctors.
Communicating Effectively with Doctors – Top Tips
Before making a call to your patient’s doctor on call it is important to know which crucial facts you want to talk to them about, especially if they have multiple issues. Is the patient’s condition deteriorating and you need the doctor to give out an order or change in the medication? Knowing which problems to resolve first can greatly affect patient outcomes.
Collect and organise your data
As nurses, we should never assume that doctors are familiar with our patient’s case. Doctors see hundreds of patients everyday, so be prepared to give a brief history of your patient and anticipate other questions especially an on call doctor might have. One suggestion, always have the patient’s chart as well as the patient’s medication record and lab results. Also, make sure that you have done a recent set of ‘obs’ because it may be asked from you.
SBAR which stands for Situation – Background – Assessment – Recommendation may be the on-point type of communication for handovers and rapid updates. This method has everything a doctor needs to know from the information that you have on the patient. How the condition or illness of the patient started. What is currently happening to your patient. What you want the doctor to do regarding the situation. Use this to your advantage because you can never go wrong with this fantastic tool for pushing information.
Keep Your Cool
Some doctors may not be receptive to a nurse’s call, especially at night. They may be irritated or worse angry since you caught them in an inconvenient hour, but don’t lose your temper and respond to their ill behaviour. Rise up from everything and still be respectful as they will generally calm down. Moreover, never apologise for interrupting their activities because after all you are calling about a patient and this is important. If they shout at you or worse, hang up before you have relayed information, then document this accordingly.
This may seem obvious when communicating effectively with doctors, but we can never be complacent when it comes to our patients. Write everything down because this is the only way you can not only protect your patient, but yourself.
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