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Take a deep breath . . . and talk

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To the Editor: We congratulate Nowak on her discussion surrounding communication in the emergency department (ED).1 This is certainly an issue that has an impact on both patient safety and satisfaction, and is an area in which all medical personnel can improve. The challenges in ED are manifold, and time-based targets tend to militate against effective communication.2 A strategy that we have employed in our department is to involve the patient and their family in discussions that are relevant to them — in particular, the ward round. The first step in the round is to introduce the participating doctors, nurses and students to the patient, explain why it is being done, and let the patient listen to the presentation, which, after all, is about them and should not be a secret.

Once the presentation is finished, the patient is invited to add to or challenge anything that has been said. This is listened to and responded to in the same manner as any of the participants’ contributions to the process.

We have found that not only are patients, doctors and nurses more satisfied with this process, but we often find out extra information, particularly pertaining to the patient’s history and their stage…