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Your bedside manner has a direct effect on patient satisfaction and scores used to determine financial reimbursement for the hospital. Patient satisfaction also improves patient outcomes. This means your bedside manner counts. Many nurses have had discussions about bedside manner and practiced it in nursing school, yet it is sometimes forgotten once you enter the fast-paced world of healthcare.
You will not always have time to sit in a patient’s room and hold their hand. You don’t always have time to talk with them at length and allow them to vent. And, in today’s environment, it’s even less likely you’re going to have time to give a bed bath. However, there are some quick and easy strategies you can use to improve your bedside manner and improve patient satisfaction.
Everyone enjoys hearing the sound of their name. If you’re not sure how to pronounce it, then ask. Dale Carnegie once wrote, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” When you use a patient’s name, they understand you see them as an individual and it empowers them to be part of the conversation about their health. By the same token, be sure your patient knows your name. This knowledge helps create a relationship that may sometimes last days and contribute to your patient’s health outcomes.
Anytime you walk into a patient’s room, be sure they know why you’re there. Even if you are just coming in to chat, let your patient know what you’re doing and what’s expected. Patients often have a story they want to share about their health history and their life. When given that opportunity you may gather insight into the patient’s health condition and how they interpret the situation. This gives you a unique opportunity to impact someone’s healthcare quickly and easily.
While you’re talking with your patient listen longer than you speak and ask open-ended questions. This facilitates a positive environment that validates your patient’s concerns and limits the assumptions that you’ll make about their history and their expectations. When you encourage your patient to talk, you discover details about their symptoms and habits that can be integrated into their healthcare plan.
While you may know every word in the medical dictionary, speaking to your patients is not the time to show it. Although these terms may sound routine to you, they often sound terrifying to those in the bed. Avoid using medical jargon as this can help defuse a situation and limit your patient’s confusion. This may also reduce their embarrassment when they don’t understand what was being said or concern over misinterpreting their diagnosis. Watch your patient’s reaction to what you’re telling them and offer to answer questions or give deeper explanations.
Some patients arrive at the hospital with a self-diagnosis from an internet search. Some have medical training, and some do not. But in either case, your patient’s thoughts and opinions should not be dismissed. No one knows better what feels normal to them then the person living in that body. Patients should be encouraged to explain their symptoms in their language and what they believe is the root cause. This demonstrates both compassion and respect for your patients. Treating people with kindness is a powerful strategy as it helps them to continue to seek comfort from healthcare professionals and engage in the recommendations given to them.
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