Improving Communication at the Bedside

Improving Communication at the Bedside

Communication is an essential concept in environments involving more than one person. It entails the conveyance of messages and the acquisition of feedback in a manner that promotes understanding and coordination. In health care settings, the exchange of information becomes a crucial ordeal among the involved stakeholders. Notably, the significance is more pronounced in hospitals and especially at the bedside where vital patient-related decisions are made (Brindley, Smith, Cardinal & LeBlanc, 2014). Primarily, communication between the attendant, the patient, and family members is critical because it enhances the ability to offer client-centered care which addresses all their concerns and meets the expectations of carers (Brindley, Smith, Cardinal & LeBlanc, 2014). In this view, a collaborative partnership between clinicians and the customers becomes imperative in the bid to provide safe and quality care.

Communication in this sense can be approached from two dimensions, which all determine the safety and quality of care according to patients. The primary level entails the interaction and exchange between the client, their families or primary carers, and the hospital health workers. Its main objective is to engage in a constructive dialogue that promotes a clear understanding of the health challenge affecting the patient and informing them of potential intervention plans, their implications, hospital environmental and policy factors, among other details that might influence the choices of both parties (Amutio-Kareaga, García-Campayo, Delgado, Hermosilla & Martínez-Taboada, 2017).

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On the other end, addressing client needs entails the joint effort of different professionals. The usual involvement includes physicians and nurses who coordinate to come up with the best treatment method and implement it towards the wellbeing of the customer (Ratelle et al., 2016). In this regard, communication between professionals becomes an essential aspect of health care management, particularly at the patient’s room or bedside where crucial decisions are made. Some scenarios, such as intensive care unit, emphasize on the effectiveness of this form of communication due to the sensitivity of choices made in attending to the patient (Wang, Wan, Lin, Zhou & Shang, 2018).

Importance of Communication in Health Care Safety and Quality

Communication between Clinicians and Patients

As discussed, the exchange of information between primary caregivers and the patients, together with their families is essential in health care delivery. Studies confirm that clients assess the perceived quality of care through many factors, one of them being the level of interaction they have with their attendants. In this view, patients form perceptions about the quality of care they receive and the facility in general based on the communication they have with practitioners (Caron & Neuhauser, 2001). This, in turn, can affect their wellbeing through failure to disseminate crucial details, non-adherence to intervention, lack of follow up visits, and an overall indifference towards hospital personnel, which might hinder care.

The ability of clinicians to obtain the correct diagnosis of patient conditions is dependent on the level of details and information supplied by the customer, other than available data on medical history and conducted tests (Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, n.d.). As a result, establishing a collaborative spirit encourages a constructive exchange which enables practitioners to identify the precise problems affecting the patient. Consequently, the most appropriate intervention can be initiated, and the patient restored to their normal state. However, studies confirm that inconclusive data continues to be a significant cause of erroneous diagnosis and mistreatments which are both disastrous to the health of the client and costly (Brindley, Smith, Cardinal & LeBlanc, 2014).

The results of such mistakes are manifested through adverse patient outcomes such as the development of complications due to unattended infections, fatal drug reactions, and increased cases of readmission. Health care client results is a central feature in the facility evaluation of safety and quality measures (Caron & Neuhauser, 2001). Other than regulatory agencies, other stakeholders like patients, insurers, and the government use such data for appraisal purposes. Adverse patient outcomes undermine the reputation and image the facility leading to poor performance.

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Similarly, the development of consumer protection and patient-centered care has shifted the dynamics of treatment. Practitioners are expected to design intervention plans that observe the expectations and wishes of the client. In this view, understanding the desire of the patient and their family is vital before implementing treatments (Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, n.d.). This is, however, predicated on the availability of sufficient data on the viable options so that the patient can make informed decisions.

Clinicians are expected to supply the customer with information about their conditions, possible interventions to address the problem, implications of each alternative, hospital environmental factors, and other elements that are relevant to the situation. Researchers establish the importance of information sharing in patient-centered care and client perceptions towards health care quality (Caron & Neuhauser, 2001). The outcome of implemented plans is likely to be successful if the customer helped in their choices and feel involved in the decision-making process. They show more commitment and effort to see it through leading to positive results as opposed to when they perceive it was imposed on them.

In this regard, hospital administrators promote the interaction between the two parties by investing in enabling forums and resources. Training of staff is a primary strategy recommended by researchers to enlighten them on the importance of engaging and partnering with patents and their families as well as strategies to do so (Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, n.d.). Also, employing sufficient health workers lifts the workload on practitioners giving them adequate time to indulge the clients effectively. Studies confirm that work strain is a significant barrier to clinician-patient communication, thus curtailing the provision of client-centered care.

Communication between clinicians

While clinicians are perceived to interact regularly due to their proximity, the health care focus is on bedside consultation. The code of ethics of nurses as well as of other medical personnel insists on the involvement of other professionals in intervention planning to ensure quality care. Physicians should employ the input of other practitioners especially in diagnosing clients and in recommending treatments to guarantee they exhaust all possibilities and the care given is the best (Wang, Wan, Lin, Zhou & Shang, 2018). Individuals operating in isolation can make mistakes which can adversely affect the patient. Poor communication and job pressure might, at times, discourage attendants from seeking a second opinion leading to costly outcomes.

Similarly, collaborative communication between clinicians enhances the safety and quality of care if attendants continuously share details relating to the progress of the patient and the success of implemented treatments (Ratelle et al., 2016). In this view, nurses can highlight observed developments to the doctor and allow for a timely response. Studies classify preventable complications and deaths to the time factor of clinician response. One of the main determinants to that reaction is the prompt communication of noted issues and the formulation of a contingency.

Evidence-based or Quality Improvement

As discussed, improving bedside communication in health care is targeted at enhancing the safety and quality of care, which are crucial determinants of patient outcomes. This is a primary measure in health care quality assessments by stakeholders. Therefore, the project is designated for quality improvement.


Communication between health care stakeholders is a prerequisite of quality care. It is a primary determinant of patient outcomes through safe and effective intervention plans. These are achieved when clinicians work in collaboration with patients and their families, as well as among themselves to come up with robust and successful solutions. Enhancing bedside communication is a useful approach to improving the quality of care.

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Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. Communicating to Improve Quality: Implementation Handbook, 1-14. Retrieved from

Amutio-Kareaga, A., García-Campayo, J., Delgado, L., Hermosilla, D., & Martínez-Taboada, C. (2017). Improving Communication between Physicians and their Patients through Mindfulness and Compassion-Based Strategies: A Narrative Review. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 6(3), 33. doi: 10.3390/jcm6030033

Brindley, P., Smith, K., Cardinal, P., & LeBlanc, F. (2014). Improving Medical Communication: Skills for a Complex (And Multilingual) Clinical World. Canadian Respiratory Journal, 21(2), 89-91. doi: 10.1155/2014/780270

Caron, A., & Neuhauser, D. (2001). Health Care Organization Improvement Reports Using Control Charts for Key Quality Characteristics. Quality Management In Health Care, 9(3), 28-39. doi: 10.1097/00019514-200109030-00004

Ratelle, J., Henkin, S., Chon, T., Christopherson, M., Halvorsen, A., & Worden, L. (2016). Improving Nurse-Physician Teamwork through Interprofessional Bedside rounding. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare. doi: 10.2147/jmdh.s106644

Wang, Y., Wan, Q., Lin, F., Zhou, W., & Shang, S. (2018). Interventions to improve Communication between Nurses and Physicians in the Intensive Care Unit: An Integrative Literature Review. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 5(1), 81-88. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnss.2017.09.007

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