Improving Patient Safety and Patient–Provider Communicationedit
Many hospitalized patients experience barriers to effective patient–provider communication that can negatively impact their care. These barriers include difficulty physically accessing the nurse call system, communicating about pain and other needs, or both. For many patients, these barriers are a result of their admitting condition and not of an underlying chronic disability. Speech-language pathologists have begun to address patients’ short-term communication needs with an array of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies. This study used a between-groups experimental design to evaluate the impact of providing patients with AAC systems so that they could summon help and communicate with their nurses. The study examined patients’ and nurses’ perceptions of the patients’ ability to summon help and effectively communicate with caregivers. Patients who could summon their nurses and effectively communicate—with or without AAC—had significantly more favorable perceptions than those who could not. This study suggests that AAC can be successfully used in acute care settings to help patients overcome access and communication barriers. Working with other members of the health care team is essential to building a “culture of communication” in acute care settings.