Ideas That Work: What We'd Love to Tell Our Patients

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getting your message across LISTEN UP Getting your message across to patients isn't always easy.

What We'd Love to Tell Our Patients

Effectively communicating with patients can sometimes be challenging, and patients might say and do things that add to these challenges. Here's how to tactfully get your message across without offending.

Leslie Mattson, RN, BSHM
ALM Consulting Services
Atlanta, Ga.
[email protected]

What we'd really like to say ...
What we should say instead ...
Jokesters
"We love a good sense of humor, and also love sharing banter with you as we prepare you for surgery. However, please do not tease about the stuff that matters: what we are doing for you today, when you last ate or drank, or other critical questions that require serious answers."
"These next 3 questions require your attention as part of our safety process."
Companions
"We hate it when your caregivers look cold and miserable, and our bath blankets are in limited supply."
"It tends to be cold and boring for caregivers here, so instruct them to dress warmly and to bring an activity to pass the time."
Late-running days
"I wish we were not running late. It is something we hate, and do everything to prevent it. Once we are behind, however, we cannot fix it."
"You would not want us to rush anything for your care, and we won't do it for others either."
NPO
"NPO means NPO. A little food before surgery is not worth a hospital transfer and pneumonia or worse."
"Please follow our fasting guidelines. It is not just an inconvenience for you, it may also impact your safety."
Smokers
"We don't judge you if you smoke, but even our nurses' noses can't take the smell of cigarettes. Also, please go easy on the perfume and cologne."
"Smoking will slow your healing and impact your post-operative course. Also, please don't smoke just before your arrival, as the smell stays with you and impacts others."
Weight
"Please don't give us your driver's license weight. We won't tell anyone, and if we were good at guessing, we'd have joined the carnival."
"We use your weight to make decisions about medication dosages and equipment safety."

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