Mistakes to Avoid at Your Patient's Bedside

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Published: 6 Feb 2018      

As a medical professional, your job is as much about keeping patients comfortable as it is figuring out what’s wrong with them.

It all comes down to your bedside manner. If patients don’t like the way you talk to them, you lose their confidence. If you lose that, you’ll find it harder to convince them of the accuracy of your advice.

This is especially true for ultrasound sonographers. Your job puts you in direct contact with conscious patients who’ll expect you to talk them through the entire procedure.

These are the mistakes to avoid when talking to your patients.

Failing to Introduce Yourself

Everybody wants to put names to faces. The simple act of introducing yourself creates a more personal connection with your patients, which you can then build off.

Don’t just walk up to the patient and start talking about medical issues. Introduce yourself, use their names, and build a rapport before you get to the series stuff.

Even something as simple as “Hello, I’m Dr. _____, how are you doing today” can get the conversation off on the right foot.

Not Explaining Your Specific Role

Some patients see so many different doctors and consultants that they struggle to understand why they have a new face peering over them from the bedside. To them, you seem like just another person who’s going to give them the same information they already have.

That though persists if you don’t explain why you’re there. Tell the patient what role you’ll take in their care. This serves two purposes. Firstly, the patient will understand that you’re the person to talk to about anything related to that role. Secondly, explaining what you do inspires confidence in your professionalism.

Interrupting Patients

There may be many reasons why you’d interrupt a patient. Perhaps they just said something that sparked an idea in your head. Or, they’re taking so long to get to their point that you’re worried it will cause delays elsewhere.

Those are important concerns, but they’re not reasons to interrupt. In fact, interruptions make your patients feel like you don’t value their input.

So, how do you get the information you need without seeming rude?

It’s all about guiding the conversation. When you need a quick and straight answer, ask a more direct question. If you need a general overview, leave things more open and listen to what your patient says. They may reveal a detail that you didn’t know about before.

Letting Your Attention Wander

Much like interrupting, failure to pay attention to your patients show that you don’t really care about their input.

Remember that patients can pick up on subtle body language that you may not even realise that you’re exhibiting. A quick glance out of the window might be all it takes to lose a patient’s confidence. If you’re constantly checking your phone, or don’t move your eyes up from your clipboard, you’re also not giving your patient the proper attention.

Make eye contact and stay in control of your body language. Do everything you can to express an interest in what your patient tells you.

The Final Word

If you want to succeed in your medical role, you need to put patients first. Avoid these bedside manner mistakes and you’ll inspire more confidence in your patients.

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