6 ways nurses can reduce patient suffering

In order to boost patient satisfaction and reduce suffering throughout the healthcare continuum, nurses must improve the perception of patient care that they provide every day, according to Advance Healthcare Network for Nurses.

Author Christy Dempsey, the senior vice president and chief nursing officer for Press Ganey Associates Inc., suggests hospitals deconstruct suffering into meaningful, measurable categories: Inherent suffering, which comes naturally with diagnosis or treatment, and avoidable suffering, which is caused by a dysfunction in the healthcare delivery system.

"It is incumbent upon us as nurses to mitigate the inherent suffering and eliminate avoidable suffering in order to provide patients with optimal care in every setting," Dempsey writes. To do this, hospitals must delivery compassionate, coordinated care to patients every day.

She offers six strategies:

  1. Acknowledge patient suffering. Recognize patients are in pain and show them you understand.

  2. Be aware of body language. Use non-verbal communication skills, keeping in mind they are equally as important as words.

  3. Treat anxiety as suffering. Anxiety and uncertainly are negative outcomes, so address them as part of the patient experience.

  4. Coordinate care. Show patients their care is coordinated, continuous and that the healthcare team will always be there for them.

  5. Transcend diagnosis through care. Embrace the reality that care goes beyond delivering medical interventions to the patient.

  6. Reduce suffering through autonomy. Ensure patient dignity by allowing patients to make informed healthcare decisions.

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