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Communicating With Care Teams

Effective Communication with Care teams

Like any industry, the healthcare industry has a language all it’s own. Some of it is comprised of specific and taught medical terminology and acronyms while some of it has evolved as a healthcare providers interact with one another day in and day out. While it isn’t necessary to school yourself on what all of these terms and lingo mean, there are some things that will help you more effectively get your point across and get the information you need.

Respectfully ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask what a certain term means if you don’t understand. Sometimes healthcare providers forget to translate and assume patients or their families may know more than they do. While we try to adjust an explanation to layman’s terms, medical terms can still slip into the conversation. We are not offended if you say you don’t understand something. It is far worse to fill in an assumption and be surprised later when it was thought everyone was on the same page. This is especially important when faced with critical decisions that only a patient or family can make.

Share your philosophies. If you have a belief that impacts delivery of care, share it right away. Some people have religious or cultural beliefs that are strongly held and most healthcare facilities and providers make every effort to accommodate wishes to optimize the patients experience. These beliefs have the potential to impact decisions about managing illness and are important to be aware of right away.

Discuss what you’ve learned. The birth of the internet has made information accessible to absolutely anyone who is seeking it. If you read something that is pertinent to your illness or a family members illness, talk to your healthcare team about what you’ve learned. All information on the internet is not accurate and some may be in direct opposition to scientific evidence. Before you take something as truth and decide you want to change a course of action, talk to your doctor or members of the care team remembering they have information and education that you may not have. Your engagement is key to optimal health outcomes.

Voice concerns. If you are unhappy about the way something has been handled or the care that has been provided, speak up. Talk directly to whomever was involved or ask to speak to a care manager, typically a nurse manager. Your experience and opinions matter. It could be there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding that can be cleared up or you could catch an error that could be life saving. While most healthcare workers are passionate about providing excellent care, they are human and make mistakes. Your observations may be lifesaving or have the potential to improve a process for future patients as well.

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