Nurses sitting at the bedside linked to higher patient experience scores

Patients' perception of nurse communication factors into both Press Ganey and HCAHPS patient experience scores, and an initiative at one Texas hospital shows the simple act of sitting down with patients can improve those scores.

According to a study published in the Patient Experience Journal, a nurse manager at a 369-bed hospital in Texas designed a "commit to sit" initiative to improve the hospital's nurse communication composite score.

The theory behind the initiative is active listening is an integral factor of the nurse communication score. The hospital's nursing team determined being at eye-level with the patient and making eye contact are qualities of active listening, and since patients are typically laying in bed, sitting is the best way to be at their eye level.

Therefore, as part of the initiative, the new expectation was for nurses in the telemetry unit to sit with all patients during their shift. They were trained to ask patients, "Do you mind if I sit and talk with you?" and then talk with the patient while sitting. This simple action had a positive effect on patient experience scores.

As a result of the initiative, the hospital's nurse composite score improved from the 9th percentile in 2014 to the 43rd percentile in 2015.

"Effective communication between patients and caregivers improves the patient experience as well as outcomes," the study concludes. "Taking a few minutes out of each shift to connect with each patient fosters relationships and shows compassionate care."

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