Improving Communication between Pharmacists and Nurses
Pharmacists |Nurses

Everyone working in the healthcare industry understands that the connection between the nurses and pharmacists play a crucial role in the care of the patients. These two distinct groups share a common goal of delivering quality patient care and they both approach their job with a specific perspective. This varied approach can build a conversational barrier between them and feeble understanding can negatively affect the patient’s care and his/her impression of the hospital. That is why pharmacy and nurse leaders must improve their communication and workflow with the relevant staff throughout the whole healthcare institution. A sincere devotion towards teamwork between pharmacists and nurses can lead to improved patient safety, satisfaction, reduced turnover of all the staff, and higher review scores.

Studies reveal that these both parties confirm that there are significant barriers that exist between them and both struggles with these. Studies also reveal that they both offer solutions in the form of improved technology and more face-to-face interaction.

Stumbling Blocks

Most of the time, the language of pharmacists and nurses gets in the way and builds obstacles. As previously mentioned, both these parties concentrate on serving the needs of the patients; however, the fundamental differences in operations and focus can affect the communication between them. A solution can be implemented as pharmacists shadowing the workflow of the nurses and spending a day in the nurse’s shoes and vice versa. Further understanding will assist in tearing down the barriers and will take both parties in the same language. Another block is the shortage of face-to-face cooperation between these two. In acute-care setting, the teams of pharmacists and nurses operate on separate floors. As the result, nurses often are not acquainted with the workflow of the pharmacy department. Hence, lack of shared knowledge of workflow or lack of communication influence each other. As each party’s expectations may not be the same, it results in no rapport between the teams and absence of communication between these team players and ultimately the disciplines struggles to communicate efficiently.

Effects on the Patient Care

Communication challenges within the healthcare departments can generate mistrust in patients and delay in care. Since patient experience is directly comparable to the potential revenue flow into the hospitals, therefore, working on the team relationships can be the bottom line. All the departments play a direct role in the patient’s care and inadequate communication can set up barriers between the disciplines. If not managed well, it can affect a patient’s health severely. For example, if a nurse calls a replacement medication via the electronic medical record, the pharmacists send the medicine but it does not reach the nurse for an hour or two. Time passes and when the nurse confronts the pharmacists, they say that the medication dose was verified and sent. Ultimately, the patient’s treatment is delayed as they do not receive medication on time. This is just a light situation, in the case of surging hospital cases, a delay of an hour or two can be severe for the patient’s life.

Facilities with a multidisciplinary approach to patient care are equipped with the finest tools required to tackle the communication challenges. Outside of the patient communication challenges, healthcare leaders should also note the culture of the hospitals as it also plays a prominent role in staff and patient satisfaction.

Improving Communication and Collaboration

Aligning the objectives of both pharmacist’s and nurse’s team can enhance the conversation. Sometimes, the pharmacists should be united within the teams. This strengthens the relationship between the pharmacists, nurses, and other team members alongside identifying potential issues and their solutions. Likewise, face-to-face interaction can assist in improving communication and association. A weak point between the pharmacists and nurses is the missed information on medication preparation and its distribution. To diminish this, they can set a monthly or quarterly meeting  on each floor to troubleshoot recurring issues and updating the staff on new equipment, new medication, and upcoming in-service training. The goal is to encourage an open discussion between the two parties so that nurse’s emergency should be well understood with the balance of pharmacist’s need for patient safety and quality assurance.

Another measure is to promote the merger of location of both the departments. Most hospitals follow the traditional practice of separating the pharmacy on a different floor, away from the care. Decentralizing some portion can also carry out the needed interaction between these two departments and aid in reducing delay in medication delivery. Incorporating new technologies like medication tracking tools can also be productive and will bring improvements in workflow of pharmacists, nurses, and the hospital.

The tension between these two disciplines is familiar and any intentions to strengthen this relationship can accelerate the hospital ahead of the competition with an effective and collaborative workforce.

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