Bedside manner is recognized by health care employers as extremely important. A good bedside manner is when a doctor or nurse can communicate effectively and has the ability to show empathy. It also means involving the patients in a discussion about their treatments and decisions made about their ongoing care.
A good bedside manner can relax and calm a nervous patient. It can also assist and improve interactions with the patient, and can have a soothing influence. Conversely, a bad communicator may appear arrogant, intolerant, rude and abrupt; this may lead to more anxiety for the patient.
Most patients are anxious, worried and may be bewildered and upset. The average patient will crave to be informed and kept in the loop about their prognosis and treatment. The majority of doctors and nurses these days see patient care as a partnership, where the treatment and care is fully discussed and agreed with the patient and their families kept informed. Long gone are the days when patients are kept in the dark about their own care and prognosis.
Research has shown doctors and nurses who have developed a strong rapport with their patients are much less likely to receive complaints or be sued. Good bedside manners can also advance health professionals careers.
Nurses and doctors who have the skills to communicate effectively with their patients are far less likely to be taken to court for malpractice, than those who make little effort to communicate well. There is an established association between the standard of rapport with patients and the incidence of complaints or litigation. Those who have the ability to connect with their patients do better in a practice than less amenable doctors and nurses.
The same applies to hospitals where doctors and nurses do better if they can effectively communicate with not only the patient but their families. A number of hospitals these days conduct an annual appraisal, and a part of the appraisal is whether or not the doctor of nurse has suitable skills in listening to the patients needs, and being courteous and respectful at all times.
Many hospitals also offer training opportunities for doctors and nurses so they can hone their bedside skills. Training may include how to keep patient families fully informed of their condition, treatments, and proposed treatments. In recent years there has throughout the industry been a stronger emphasis on bedside manner as an important aspect of health care experience.
On the minus side of the equation there are concerns about the amount of time doctors and nurses can spend with their patients, and therefore may not have the time to communicate effectively, and they might come across as curt or abrupt with patients.
It is of the utmost importance for doctors and nurses along with other health care professionals like dentists for example, to learn and maintain good bedside manners. The simple act of choosing to wear colorful and inviting scrub uniforms, talking in a friendly and calming manner, or taking the time to listen to how someone feels about their current condition does make a big difference to patients and their families.