Communication is a major component of providing nursing care and we need to Avoid the communication mistakes correctional nurses make because the way we use words shares so much more than the content of the message. In fact, the words themselves are only a very small part of the entire message conveyed. Correctional nurses often have very little time to communicate with inmate-patients and brief interactions take place during medication line, sick call and chronic care visits. Maintaining a therapeutic relationship while getting to the bottom of the health concern can be difficult. Below is a list of mistakes nurses can make in healthcare interactions.
5 Communication Mistakes Correctional Nurses Make
Approval or Disapproval
An inmate-patient is dying of lung cancer in the prison infirmary and suggests that he wants to end his life. The nurse tells him that this is absolutely wrong and he should not think this way. The nurse on the next shift hears about this in report and lets the patient know she thinks this is a good idea although they would not be able to help him with it. In both cases the nurses are sending a subtle message that nurses have the right to make these value judgments. Instead the nurse should help the patient express his ideas and feelings without fear of judgment.
During a busy medication line an inmate asks the nurse to take a look at a rash developing on his left hand. The nurse does not look up from the medication book and states, “Drop a slip for a sick call visit.” Although this might be the standard process, an automatic response without any indication of concern for the patient’s health is unnecessary. A better response would be “Yes, that needs looked at. Fill out a sick call slip for an appointment to get that evaluated.”
Asking for Explanations
The patient is being evaluated after a self-harm incident. While completing the physical evaluation, the nurse asks her “Why did you cut yourself?”. Why questions can cause insecurity, resentment and mistrust. A better question might be “What’s on your mind right now?”.
A patient is a no-show for his Hypertension Chronic Care visit. When questioned about it, he says the doctor is an idiot and is giving him all the wrong medications. The nurse responds, “Dr. Smith is an excellent physician and you should be glad we have him.” Defensive responses are unhelpful and can cause anger and frustration. Instead, listen to the complaint without judgment.
The patient continues to complain about Dr. Smith and the nurse becomes irritated. “That is ridiculous! You don’t know what you are talking about.” Invalidation is demeaning and belittling. It suggests a superiority perspective and is unhelpful to resolving an issue.
Can you spot yourself in any of the examples above? All of us tend to fall back on familiar and comfortable responses in our nurse-patient communications. By intentionally focusing on how you interact with your patients, you can improve your opportunities to make a difference in the health of your patient population.
See how many of these communication mistakes you can find in this video
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