Nurses should “avoid making assumptions” about patients based on appearance or other personal characteristics, according to latest guidance.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published guidance last week on patient experience in adult NHS services, covering areas such as communication, shared decision making, nutrition and pain management.
As well as familiar issues, such as not speaking in front of patients and asking them how they would like to be addressed, the guidance calls on nurses and other staff to “ensure that the accent, use of idiom and dialect of both the patient and the healthcare professionals are taken into account when considering communication needs”.
It also advises staff to avoid using jargon, maintain eye contact with the patient – if culturally appropriate – and position themselves at the same level as the patient.
The document includes a section on providing information to patients. When discussing the risks and benefits of treatments or conditions with patients staff are advised to use “absolute” risk rather than “relative” risk – for example, explaining that the risk of an event increases from one in 1,000 to two in 1,000, rather than saying the risk of the event doubles.
They should use “natural frequency”, for example 10 in 100, rather than a percentage.