While many of these occurrences are the result of poor judgement and inadequate training, I’m beginning to think that a deeper issue may be behind many instances of injuries in nursing homes– a lack of basic communication skills.
After all, each patient’s care is provided by a team of professionals whom very much rely on the effective oral and written communication of on another for the effective ongoing care of patients.
Theoretically, think about the disastrous consequences that could arise if a doctor fails to write specific orders about a patients care or a nurse fails to note how and when such care was provided to the patient.
Bad communication is blaimed for a series of errors made at a New York nursing home that resulted in injuries to patients. Citing a state investigation into the incidents, it was recently reported that the underlying problem behind patient injuries was a breakdown in the lines of communication.
In one incident, where a patient fell and broke her arm during a day visit with her family, the nursing home staff acknowledged that they never instructed the family on how to care for their loved one– while she required specialized care for transfers.
Lack of communication is also to blame for a situation where a patient was injured due to improper restraints that the family applied during a brief outing to visit the family at home. Despite the fact that the facility knew that the patient required specialized restraints, no documentation was given to the family.
Yet in other circumstances, a breakdown in communications amongst staff at the facility is believed to be at least partially responsible for the progression of a patients bed sore on her heel. Despite documentation that an early stage pressure sore was evident on the patient, the facility provided no documentation as how the symptom were to be treated.
Given the fact that communication lapses occur on a daily basis at nursing homes, it is important for nursing home and other medical facilities to recognize these potential problems and implement ways for staff to reconcile these issues. Unfortunately, until communication skills are given the priority that they deserve, all the education, re-education and staffing courses will have little impact towards improving patient care.