Nurse-Patient Communication, Interdisciplinary Communication, and Patient Safety

Nurse-Patient Communication, Interdisciplinary Communication, and Patient Safety


Many governing bodies in the health care sector have identified communication to be significant to the safety and well-being of patients. Besides, improved care coordination requires healthcare providers to offer effective communication. The present research shows that the leading cause of patient harm and medical errors are ineffective communication. In this paper, I will explain the seven principles of patient and clinician communication and the application of three principles to my interaction with patients. I will illustrate the methods used to improve interdisciplinary communication and choose the one that is best. Lastly, I will explain the ethical principles and their importance in communication.

Principles of Communication

First, the mutual respect principle encourages patients and clinicians to exchange information and make decisions as partners (Paget, L., et al. 3). The exchange of information should exhibit mutual respect. Second, the principle of harmonized goal requires both the patient and clinician to agree and have a common understanding of the care plan. Third, the principle of a supportive environment encourages the development of a secure environment that supports the needs and concerns of the patient. Patients must feel comfortable when taking to clinicians (Sevdalis, Hull, & Birnbach 5). Fourth, with the principle of appropriate partners, the patient should seek the services of a clinician with skills appropriate to his/her problems. Clinicians should understand the options of the patient so that they can offer the best care.

Fifth, the principle of the right information requires clinicians to discuss and share the available information, choices and trade-offs. Understanding situations of the patient depend on the accuracy of sharing by the patient of perceptions, personal practices, and symptoms (Paget, L., et al. 4). Sixth, with the transparency and full disclosure, patients should be open to clinicians about their medical history, circumstances, and preferences. Lastly, the principle of continuous learning requires the establishment of an effective method for regular feedback on progress.

Three of the seven principles are critical in my interaction with my patients. Regarding the principle of mutual respect, I listen to the issue raised by the patient and respect their feeling about the situation. Hearing the views of the patient is important since it allows me to understand him/her better before making a decision. Second, I apply the principle of harmonized goal by ensuring that we both aim for a common goal and my patient has a better knowledge of the risks and benefits associated with the care plan. In the case of my diabetic patient, I will ensure that he agrees and understands that the treatment for the disease is palliative or curative. Third, regarding the principle of a supportive environment, I will make sure that my patient feels comfortable when explaining his concerns. My patients must feel the support I offer them when they make their choices regarding the treatment.

Methods of Communication

The methods being used to improve the interdisciplinary communication include team huddles, a standardized communication format called SBAR and multidisciplinary rounds using daily goal sheet. First, Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendation (SBAR) is an appropriate method for eliminating communication problems since it offers a standardized means of communication that is useful in patient care situations. The method is used to bridge the gap in communication styles thus helping team members to have a common goal (Dingley, et al. 4). The second method is team huddles. A team huddle refers to a quick meeting that encompasses a functional group with the focus on improving team communication (Dingley, et al. 4). The benefits offered by huddles include keeping the momentum of the team going since they can meet on a regular basis.

The third method that is useful in improving the interdisciplinary communication is multidisciplinary rounds using daily goal sheet. With this method, healthcare providers engage in completing rounds that are patient-centered (Dingley, et al. 6). Rounds emphasize on decision-making, patient safety issues, setting daily goals, open and collaborative communication, care planning and communicate with the family of the patient.

Given the three methods of communication, the one that best applies to my areas of practice is the SBAR method. The profession of a homecare nurse requires one to engage in a daily or weekly communication with the care team. In most cases I might find that I am the only one with the patient at home; therefore, in a situation when I need changes in medication or care plan from the physician, it is necessary to have a clear and concise communication. With the SBAR method, I can have an effective communication on critical issues that require immediate action.

Ethical Principles and Communication

The first principle is honesty. Nurses should advocate truthfulness when communicating with patients. For instance, nurses should provide accurate and truthful information about the care plan (Shannon & Myers 20). The second principle is freedom of expression. The principle gives patients the right to express themselves and nurses should listen to their concerns. For instance, by listening, the nurse can understand the needs of the patient. The third principle is respect. The principle requires nurses and patient to understand and respect the confidentiality of one another. For instance, it is inappropriate for a nurse to disclose sensitive information about the client. The fourth principle is reliability. The nurse should be reliable in a situation when he/she is required to attend to the patient. Reliability of the nurse builds trust and a strong relationship with the patient (Sevdalis, Hull, & Birnbach 10).

Ethics plays a critical role in patient and nurse communication. It is significant to show ethics when communicating with patient since it allows trust between the two parties. Because ethics builds trust, it aids to enhance patient safety by preventing harm. Team communication in a health care facility enhances the safety of the patient (Shannon & Myers 22). For instance, in a situation when one of the members fails to inform the other group about the current condition of the patient, that is an ineffective team communication and possess a risk to the safety of the patient. Conversely, when a team member provides a detailed report about the patient, then he/she will be enhancing the safety of the patient.


An effective patient and nurse communication results in a positive impact on the patient safety and outcome. The principle of patient and clinician communication includes a supportive environment, the right to information, harmonized goals, appropriate decision partner, continuous learning, transparency and full disclosure, and mutual respect. The methods being used to improve the interdisciplinary communication include team huddles, a standardized communication format called SBAR and multidisciplinary rounds using daily goal sheet. The ethical principle in communication includes honesty, freedom of expression, reliability, and respect. Nurses can improve the safety of the patient and health outcome by employing collaborative skills, inter-professional and intra-professional communication.


Works Cited

Dingley, Catherine, et al. “Improving patient safety through provider communication strategy enhancements.” (2008).

Paget, L., et al. “Patient-clinician communication: Basic principles and expectations.” Washington, DC: IOM Working Group Report, Institute of Medicine (2011).

Sevdalis, N., L. Hull, and D. J. Birnbach. “Improving patient safety in the operating theatre and perioperative care: obstacles, interventions, and priorities for accelerating progress.” British journal of anaesthesia 109.suppl 1 (2012): i3-i16.

Shannon, D. W., and L. A. Myers. “Nurse-to-physician communications: Connecting for safety.” Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare 9.5 (2012): 19-26.


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