How clinicians interact with patients is essential, but it’s sometimes less than ideal. When receiving medical care, patients are often stressed and overwhelmed. While an exam might be routine for the providers, it isn’t for the patient.
Listening to a patient’s concerns, being non-judgmental, and showing empathy are all needed to provide adequate care, especially for individuals with I/DD or elderly patients. Explore these tips on building a better bedside manner to deliver quality care.
Before beginning an exam, be sure to introduce yourself and talk to the patient. Explaining who you are and what you’ll be doing is especially beneficial to make adults with I/DD feel at ease. No matter who the patient is, make sure to offer them your full attention and avoid multitasking.
Listen to your patient’s concerns and be sure to validate them; don’t make assumptions. Repeat what the patient said to be sure you’ve heard them correctly. Encourage the patient to talk by asking open-ended questions. Be sure to describe any diagnosis, tests, or treatment plan in detail so that the patient has full transparency.
Make Them Comfortable
Being transparent is only part of making your patient feel comfortable. Be conscious of your body language; crossed arms or fidgeting conveys impatience.
Pay attention to your patient’s body language. Do they seem nervous? Try to alleviate their nerves by providing the necessary information, but also utilize positive body language like smiling and making eye contact.
Avoid Medical Jargon
Use laymen’s terms whenever possible and avoid medical jargon when discussing a diagnosis or treatment. A medical term that is common to you can be confusing and even scary to a patient. Sometimes, the patient might also be embarrassed for not understanding.
Notice the patient’s reaction and if they seem overwhelmed or confused, ask if they understand and have any questions. Be sure to explain the treatment or tests further if necessary.
Throughout the exam, always be kind. Even though this is part of your daily routine, it isn’t for the patient. Also, be aware of how you end the exam—communicate that you are leaving. A patient might feel brushed off if you leave without explaining. Be sure to inform them of their next steps and, of course, be warm but brief.
Remaining optimistic, listening to your patient, and putting their emotional state first are vital tips for building a better bedside manner.