Docs, nurses miscommunicate on respect, job role

Physicians and nurses perceive their interactions differently, highlighting communication issues and contradictory expectations, according to a recent HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey.

In particular, the survey found differing views of how doctors treat nurses. According to 42 percent of nurse leaders, physician abuse or disrespect of nurses was common, whereas only 13 percent of physician leaders said it was common. Fifty-eight percent of nurse leaders considered disrespect for nurses uncommon, while 88 percent of physician leaders said it was uncommon at their healthcare organizations.

"I do believe nurses and physicians are on two different pages when it comes to communication," Pam Kadlick, vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer for Ohio's Mercy St. Anne Hospital, said in a HealthLeaders Media article. "Nurses have a tendency to give a very detailed report, more than what a physician may want to hear; hence, the physician may interrupt, seem to be abrupt, even rude at times."

But most physicians don't consider such behavior to be disrespectful, she noted.

In another display of nurse-doctor disconnect, about 77 percent of nurse leaders said expanding nurses' scope of practice would improve the quality of their healthcare organization; only 10 percent thought it would worsen. Meanwhile, 48 percent of physician leaders said quality would get better, while 26 percent reported that expanded nurse roles would lead to lower quality care. 

Inefficient communication can translate into serious medical errors, according to a study published last summer in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. But researchers found that organizing pediatric physicians and nurses into small teams improves the frequency and quality of communication--and likely patient outcomes.

For more information:
- heres the HealthLeaders article
- check out the nurse leader survey (.pdf)
- here's the study abstract

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