Communications in Healthcare

An online continuing education course for nurses, medical health care professionals, and other interested individuals.

In a review of over 2,000 medical incidents, a Joint Commission study revealed that communication problems were the root cause more than 65% of the time (Haig, Sutton, & Whittington, 2006). Of those 2,000 incidents, 70% resulted in a patient’s death. Other studies show that communication problems are at the root of 90% of all patient adverse incidents. Communication, in all its varied forms, is an extremely important part of our everyday life at work and at home. A realization of the many forms of communication that we use daily (some without our knowledge), along with the possible pitfalls involved, will allow nurses to seize upon opportunities to improve communication on a provider-to-provider level as well as on a provider-to-patient level.

Additionally, several methods of improving communications will be discussed. These techniques have been proven in healthcare as well as other communication critical industries. While these methods definitely improve patient safety, their use will also have a positive impact on patient satisfaction. So open your ears and eyes – prepare to communicate clearly to reduce errors and improve satisfaction!

Questions? Check out our FAQs page and How Online IV Certification Works!


Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to:

  1. Explain verbal and non-verbal communications.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the essential elements of communications by recognizing the key components of clear communication.
  3. List 4 impediments to communications.
  4. Name each element of the SBAR style of communication.
  5. Describe 4 methods of improving communications.


Chapter 1: Types of Communication

  • Verbal
  • Non-verbal
    • Written
    • Body language
Chapter 2: The Essential Elements of Communication
  • Information source
  • Transmitter
  • Channel (media – written, speech, visual, etc.)
  • Receiver
  • Destination
Chapter 3: Impediments to Communications
  • Differences in language
    • Dialects
    • Accents
    • “Two countries separated by a common language” (use SBEC computer screen photo)
  • Different background
  • Use of slang / jargon / technical words
  • Speaking medicine to patients
  • Physical impediments (hearing disorder, speech disorder)
  • Background noise
  • Sound-a-like names
    • Medications
    • Procedures
    • People
  • Inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Non-verbal communication that shuts off the other person (preventing feedback)
    • Look of not caring
    • Being busy with other things instead of actively listening
    • Authoritative or closed body language, physical obstacles
Chapter 4: Ways to Prevent Communication Errors
  • Standardized methods of communication
    • SBAR communication
      • Not only getting the words across, including all necessary parts of the message
    • Read back of critical orders
      • Computer and aviation models of read back to confirm communications
      • Vasoactive drugs
      • Chemotherapy
  • Improving your communications
    • Facing the person you are talking to
    • Speaking clearly
    • Quiet area
    • Let the other person finish talking (don’t presume to know what they will say)
    • Listen with purpose (don’t multitask while listening)
    • Don’t use non-standard communications
      • Prohibited abbreviation list
      • Use of local/pet/specialty specific abbreviations
      • Words with common double meaning (something ‘bad’ that is ‘good’)
    • Write clearly (or print if necessary)
    • Question written orders that are not readable or are in doubt as to meaning
Chapter 5: Conclusion
  • Good communication skills enhance
    • Patient safety
    • Patient satisfaction
  • California Bill 241
  • Implicit Bias in Healthcare
  • What is Implicit Bias?
  • Implications of Implicit Bias in Healthcare
  • How to Reduce Implicit Bias

Price: $10.00

Contact Hour: 1

Course Author

Capra Garrison

Capra Garrison, Registered Nurse, has more than 33 years of experience in infusion therapy and the instruction of licensed nurses in infusion therapy continuing education. Her experience comes from multiple infusion settings: acute care, ambulatory infusion centers, home infusion, long term care continuing education provider, and long term care pharmacy quality assurance consultant.

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Course Accreditation

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