I chose to watch Grey’s Anatomy for my blog this week. I have been watching since my sophomore year in high school and it is probably my all-time favorite TV show. Every episode brings something new and exciting and being in nursing just makes me love it more!
Last week’s episode was an interesting one to observe for communication issues. Suzanne, a patient who came in for a very routine surgery, was still in the hospital days after her procedure with a puzzling disease process. Her case especially required active listening, clarifying, and asking relevant questions to hopefully put together the pieces of her case.
None of the doctors knew exactly what was wrong with her and this did nothing but tear the team apart. The communication in this particular situation between providers went downhill from there while everyone was trying to solve Suzanne’s case on their own. Doctor DeLuca was one of the most involved in trying to help Suzanne and eventually called in Doctor Riley, a deaf diagnostics expert, to help.
Dr. Riley had figured out what communication strategy worked best for her and her personal situation. She carried around an iPad that allowed her to sign to a translator through FaceTime and have the translator speak back aloud what Dr. Riley was saying. When it came time to do bed-side reports, her iPad and translator ensured that everyone around her could hear and understand what she was communicating. This made communicating with all parties easier and more comfortable. I thought this was a positive example of communication between both providers, and provider and patient.
Suzanne and her family were especially worried about her condition since her husband had recently passed away in a hospital from a similar situation. Her daughters and sister were at the bedside most of the time and were obviously very worried. This made the healthcare provider and patient communication even more important and also added the family dimension. The doctors did their best to communicate with Suzanne and her family but, not knowing what was going on was making it difficult. The lack of information sharing was a barrier that couldn’t really be controlled.
Another one of Dr. DeLuca’s factors for negative communication issues was him not taking care of himself. He hadn’t slept for days, eaten like normal or acted like his normal self. He was putting in too many extra hours that resulted in him being fatigued and as a result, not the best team member or provider. Even though he was doing what he thought was right to help Suzanne, he wasn’t at his best. It was evident that he was frazzled when talking to both his coworkers and Suzanne and this didn’t help comfort anyone over the situation.
When Suzanne’s case was finally cracked, both positive and negative communication issues arose.
Without telling the rest of the care team, Dr. DeLuca gave Suzanne a steroid through her IV that could have either saved her life or killed her. Doctor Grey, a general surgeon, was disappointed and furious at DeLuca’s reckless behavior and this was what ultimately broke up both their professional and romantic relationship. However, because Dr. DeLuca was right about his diagnosis and treatment, Suzanne was able to recover. He used therapeutic communication when explaining what was going to happen to her in the future as well as educating her on her condition.
Communication played a huge part in Suzanne’s situation. Because her situation was so unique, all people involved needed to be informed and kept up to speed with what was happening. The relationships between the provider and patient were important because if they hadn’t had been positive, Suzanne’s sister would have transferred Suzanne to a different hospital and they might not have diagnosed her before it was too late. Hopefully the doctors and other people involved in the situation learned how valuable communicating effectively is throughout the entire hospital stay and will use this lesson in their futures.