1. Davis, Charlotte BSN, RN, CCRN

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Utilizing effective communication skills in the healthcare setting is instrumental to the safety of our patients. For this reason, hospitals are implementing communication tools, such as the SAFE model. Each letter represents a core communication principle that's linked to improved patient safety.

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Support healthcare team members. We play an important role in supporting team members by ensuring that our colleagues adhere to established national guidelines. For example, if you notice that a sterile field is compromised during a sterile procedure, immediately ask for the healthcare team to take a brief pause to discuss resolutions. We must cultivate a culture of trust in which all team members feel empowered by their healthcare organization and peers to speak up when they see any action or omission that may impair patient safety or negatively impact the work environment.


Ask questions. Embrace your patient advocacy role and ask focused questions to clarify any unclear care plan intervention or deviation from a widely accepted standard or organizational policy. We must be invested in maintaining a safe environment in which open patient-centered dialogue between team members is encouraged. When facts reveal that patient safety has been compromised, ask for the healthcare team to consider a change in interventions or the treatment plan and participate in full disclosure of all events that impacted or could've impacted the patient. By owning this responsibility, we create a true culture of safety.


Focus on and be accountable for optimal patient-centered care. Avoid distractions that are associated with serious safety events (SSEs), such as multitasking during medication administration and using personal cell phones in direct patient care areas. To reduce the incidence of SSEs, thoroughly discuss with patients all of the risks and benefits associated with procedures, interventions, and treatment options. This allows us to resolve any questions or concerns, helps ensure that the patient remains compliant with the treatment plan, and let's the healthcare team validate authentic comprehension.


Effectively communicate every time. Demonstrate efficacious communication by conducting bedside report in the patient's presence. Without successful communication between offgoing and oncoming nurses, vital elements of the patient's progress toward treatment goals or improving/declining status may be overlooked. Participating in multidisciplinary rounding helps keep the healthcare team focused on progress or barriers to meeting patient discharge criteria. Simple actions, such as asking the patient and family what their concerns are or what they feel is a barrier to discharge, can often resolve knowledge deficits.


Our patients deserve our respect and attention at every encounter. Utilizing the SAFE communication model helps ensure that we retain accountability for our actions and stay focused on providing skilled nursing care in a distraction-free zone.