Making changes in communication

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Anthony Hall, RN, BSN
Anthony Hall, RN, BSN

In today's world of iPhones, iPads, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi most people find it's very easy to relay information.  So why are we having such a hard time relaying information when it comes to patient transfer?

When you look the possible issues that result in the transition from acute care to long-term care, lack of communication is a major issue. As a matter of fact, faulty communication in patient transfer has been the cause of major delays in patient care, increase cost for care and some cases even death.

Most nursing personnel voice similar concerns of poor communication: They could not read the doctor's discharge orders; there was no telephone number to call for clarification; and care managers received no help from calls to the hospital's main number. Additionally, care managers did not send appropriate papers when patients were discharged, and nurses did not give thorough reports. 

Other items frequently missing were results from the most recent blood glucose test and the time of the last insulin administration. Nursing home caregivers were not updated about residents' progress in the hospital, and sometimes only finding out about a death when a family arrives at the facility to retrieve a resident's belongings.

In some instances, late discharge of patients did not give nursing homes time to obtain medication or equipment.  Often times the suppliers are closed after regular business hours, and if there are care management questions or additional appointments needed, those offices are not open. 

All issues lead to the significant interruption in patient care.

In the near future, as facilities transition to computerized charting, the issue of not being able to read the physician's discharge orders will be a thing of the past. You'll be able to read the doctors name and phone number clearly. You'll be able to communicate with the discharging unit via instant message. Imagine being able to view the patient's entire medical record online prior to the patient arriving. 

We have the technology at our fingertips! One example is the military's electronic care system ALTA, that allows you to see a soldier's entire medical record online. You can see labs and doctors orders from treatment given at any military facility in the world! 

Hang in there, long-term care: help is on the way!

Anthony Hall, RN, BSN, is a charge registered nurse for behavioral health at Atlanta Medical Center and the Chief Education Officer for online training company Progressive Solutions.

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