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Communication is Critical for Hospital Patients

Categories: Business Communication

Last week I wrote about the pharmaceutical industry. This week, it became more personal. My 84-year old mother passed out in her apartment...

Fortunately, she had a medical alert button. So, she ultimately was taken to the hospital.

Hospitals are scary places. You don’t want to be there without an advocate. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

For example, my mother had four different health professionals (nurses, medical students, interns and residents) ask about the medications she is taking.

Did they compare notes? No, they didn’t.

They panicked when they saw an issue in her brain – but no one had recorded the fact that she had brain surgery 30 years ago and there was some scar tissue. My mom told the nurse that, but no one found that note. Mom spent days being tested and no one told her for what.

The irony of my mother's stay in the hospital is that the negatives weren’t clinical or medical in nature, they were about communication.

Here are my recommendations for all hospital personnel:

  • Treat patients as people, not a disease state.
  • Ask questions – listen – record responses when essential.
  • Communicate these answers with all people involved with the patient.
  • Ask the patient what he or she needs – food, drink, the bathroom, medication, etc.
  • Keep family members updated frequently.

My mom told me that she liked a particular doctor. Why? Because she listened.

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