Nurse rapport with patients, families may lead to better care

nurse with patient

The relationship nurses have with patients and their families is crucial, and cultivating a positive rapport with care providers can improve patient care.

Patients and their families can and should try to connect with nurses to stay better informed, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. Kathleen Turner, a nurse at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, told the publication that family members shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or raise concerns about care, or offer to help however they can--and especially, to speak up if they spot an error or safety risk.

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“You have to speak up if you think something is wrong,” Jane McCullough, another nurse at UCSF, told The Journal. “I would take being embarrassed or corrected any day over actually harming someone.”

Nurses also can benefit from a family member’s unique insights into a patient’s personal preferences or goals, according to the article. Hospitals are increasingly turning to patient and family advisory councils for this perspective, FierceHealthcare previously reported, which can boost patient satisfaction.

However, conversations can easily go sour, according to the WSJ. Karen Anderson, a clinical nurse specialist in patient- and family-centered care at the Hospital of University of the Pennsylvania, said family members may overstep their bounds--and their knowledge--in challenging medical decisions. “When families get stressed they sometimes go outside their role,” she told the newspaper. “They want to determine care or start trying to dictate things.”

Families should approach a conversation with respect, the nurses in the WSJ piece recommend, and be aware that a nurse’s job is full of a multitude of day-to-day stresses. A lack of respect was cited by nurses as one of the largest contributors to stress, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

That respect goes both ways, too, according to the article. Patient satisfaction ratings impact Medicare reimbursements, FierceHealthcare previously reported, and patient responses are often publicly available for other potential patients to view.

- read the WSJ article