Ask A Magnet Nurse: Communication Is An Essential Part Of A Nurse’s Role During A Patient’s Hospital Stay

Elaine J. Connor, RN, Patient Advocate, Candler Hospital

Smart Living: What roles do nurses play in keeping patients and their family members updated about where the patient is in their treatment process?

Elaine Connor: From the first point of contact, St. Joseph’s/Candler nurses work to develop a professional and trusting relationship with the patient and their families by using evidence-based practice to ensure that patients have the best outcome. A nurse knows the foundation for healing starts by building a trusting relationship through timely communication.

SL: Is there a protocol for nurses whenever they interact with a patient, or a patient’s family member, about what information they give?

EC: Nurses play a critical role in ensuring that the regulations of HIPPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, are adhered to in our hospital. The patient must consent to the release of any information pertaining to his or her healthcare issues or concerns. During admission, patients are asked if they want anyone to be made aware of their stay in the hospital. The nurse can only release information with the patient’s consent.

SL: How do nurses help patients and their families cope with being in a different environment, sometimes for long periods of time, where they have no control over what happens next?

EC: We help them cope by providing continuity of care with the patient care team and maintaining a clean, health-promoting environment. Our nurses strive to maintain open lines of communication with the patient and family, and remain proactive in addressing their needs or concerns. The nurse makes rounds every two hours, which includes rounds with the physician or surgeon, and additional times if needed to keep the patient and family informed of scheduled tests or procedures. Nurses also communicate with the patient and with each other through the dry-erase boards included in each room. The board provides the names of each nurse and attending physician, as well as other items such the patient’s diet concerns or potential side effects with medication.

SL: You were previously a nurse in Day Surgery and now serve as Patient Advocate. What feedback have you heard about our nurses’ communication with patients and their families?

EC: We frequently receive letters from patients about the care they received. A recent letter described the nurse as “professional, calm, understanding, and helpful.” The family wrote about how the nurse listened, facilitated their needs in a timely fashion, and always kept them updated on the plan of care.
  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
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St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000