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How Bedside Nursing Shift Changes Improve Patient Care

Good communication among members of the medical team caring for a hospital patient is crucial. Serious and even fatal medical mistakes can result from lack of communication or miscommunication between doctors, nurses and other medical personnel. One point where this communication is key is when nurses change shifts.

This bedside shift reporting has been the practice in some medical facilities for a while now. As one hospital administrator notes, the practice gives family and patients a chance to ask questions and voice concerns while both the incoming and outgoing nurses are present.

Research has shown that communication between outgoing and incoming nurses improves considerably when it is done in the room in front of the patient and family members rather than at a nursing station or in the hallway, as it's traditionally been done. In some cases, nurses don't even confer face-to-face, but rely on notes on the patient's chart.

In addition to improving patient safety, having these conversations in the room has been shown to provide patients and their loved ones with more confidence about the care being received. Since patient satisfaction scores are tied to Medicare funding for hospitals, these facilities have an additional incentive for implementing this practice.

As the head of one patient advocacy group noted, "It is a very tangible way to ensure that complete and accurate information is shared and there is mutual understanding of the care plan and other priorities." These bedside shift changes have been shown to reduce issues with intravenous lines and catheters as well as to minimize patient falls.

Too many patients are injured, harmed or even killed by poor communication among the medical professionals tasked with their care. When this occurs, they and their families have the right to determine what their legal options are. Miami medical malpractice attorneys can help get to the bottom of exactly what caused the problem and help determine if medical professionals and/or the hospital itself can and should be held liable.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "The Most Crucial Half-Hour at a Hospital: The Shift Change," Laura Landro, accessed Jan. 13, 2016

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