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Four easy ways to provide patient education

The responsibility of educating patients and their families often falls to nurses, from explaining procedures to providing discharge instructions. This can be one of the most difficult parts of the job, and your staff may have limited time due to staffing issues or an emergency situation. Here are some tips to help educate patients quickly and effectively:

Handouts are your friend: Patients are often given a lot of information all at once, and it can be hard for them to remember every detail, especially in a stressful hospital setting. Having notes and props ready for them can save time and prevent miscommunication, especially when discharging patients. Have your nurses write up the specific instructions and go over them with the patient; use highlighters to mark the most important information. There are a lot of resources and tools available (we have some here) about common procedures and practices that you can use as handouts for patients as well.

Stay concise but informative: Patients are probably only going to remember one or two learning points, so try to emphasize the most important takeaways and leave the rest for your handouts.

Test understanding: It’s important not to assume that your patient is well-informed about their own condition. Even if you think something is obvious, say it anyway! Once you go over the key points, make the patient repeat them back to you; it’s one thing to listen to an explanation, but quite another to have to explain it yourself.

Encourage questions: Even if a patient seems to understand, it’s important to leave time for questions. Ask if they have any concerns about medications or follow-up care; this will help prevent confusion going forward and negative health outcomes.

You can go here for more advice about patient education.

JAMA: Nurses key to surviving surgery

A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association has found that surgery patients in hospitals with better nursing environments receive better care without drastically increasing costs. Researchers found the 30-day mortality rate for postoperative patients was 4.8% at hospitals with more than 1.5 nurses per bed (NPB), while facilities with less than one NPB had a 30-day mortality rate of 5.8%.

“It wasn’t just the number of nurses that made the difference. Magnet status hospitals recognized for having excellent nursing programs and cultures do better,” study author Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, said in a press release.  

While there’ve been numerous studies showing the benefits of a bigger nursing staff, the cost of hiring new staff has been an impediment for many facilities. Despite this, better staffed hospitals actually paid less ($163) overall per patient than understaffed hospitals.

Free Webcast: Techniques to improve critical-thinking skills

HCPro is celebrating and recognizing nurses all week long with special giveaways, prizes, and promotions.

OnDemandWebcastEnjoy this FREE webcast on us!

Critical Thinking and Patient Outcomes: Engaging Novice and Experienced Nurses

Join renowned critical thinking expert Shelley Cohen, RN, MSN, CEN, for a 90-minute webcast for nurse managers, educators, and nursing professional development specialists about strengthening nursing staff’s critical-thinking skills.

This program provides practical strategies for developing critical-thinking skills in novice and experienced nurses. It discusses how to foster an ongoing program that emphasizes critical-thinking skills and how improved critical thinking can impact patient outcomes.

To access this FREE webcast, enter discount code EW323823 at checkout.

And be sure not to miss…

Yesterday’s post has links to a 20% discount code on all nursing products, a BOGO on books and handbooks, and other activities of interest…

Take Care of the Caretakers; Take Care of Ourselves

Nurses, the caretakers on the front line, often work shifts of 12 hours and more, and may work up to 50 or even 60 hours per week. Fatigue is a way of life, threatening the health of those nurses, as well as the quality of the care they can provide. As a nurse manager, you struggle with balancing staffing with your budget, so you know this story all too well.

Now the ANA is pushing for new limits on consecutive night shifts and shifts longer than 12 hours (see ANA press release) as a way of supporting the health of nurses, positive patient outcomes, and nursing professional standards. Until the ANA recommendations become practice, what can you, the nurse manager, do to take care of yourself and your staff today, to improve the work environment and the energy they bring to it?

(Hint, the answer comes from our latest nursing book, Essential Skills for Nurse Managers, and you will find suggestions for how to renew your energy here.)