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Better Communication in Healthcare Saves Lives! Three Easy Tips

Clear, effective communication skills are essential in any career, but in healthcare, they can be a matter of life and death. Approximately 65% of hospital deaths and injuries are directly related to communication breakdowns! Although these breakdowns can have many underlying causes, one source of misunderstanding can be unclear or heavily accented speech. Whether it’s a patient not understanding the doctor’s instructions how to follow up their care at home or a nurse misunderstanding the amount or type of medication to administer, unclear speech can create a range of very serious misunderstandings in a health care setting. How can a healthcare professional help decrease these risks?

Keep it Crisp and Clear: Producing each sound of each and every word makes the difference between an unintelligible mumble and crisp, clear speech. Clearly pronouncing the consonants at the ends of words is particularly important. Many words in English only differ in their final consonant. This can be a significant source of confusion, particularly where numbers are concerned. Fourteen and forty sound remarkably similar when they’re not clearly enunciated. Not only can numbers be particularly tricky, but they’re incredibly important in healthcare communication, being used for everything from medication dosages to reporting patient results. Pronouncing all of the sounds in numbers and other words can prevent countless potentially dangerous miscommunications.

Slow Down: Even if your speech isn’t perfect, slowing down your rate can go a long way towards improving understanding. Slowing down puts a natural pause between your words and keeps them from running together. It also helps your listener process the information they’re hearing and absorb the most important points. Working in a medical setting can be rushed and chaotic, but taking the time to speak with an even, measured rate can greatly improve communication and prevent misunderstandings.

Seek Outside Help: Although these simple tips can be extremely helpful, many people require more direct and intensive communication training. For people who fall into this category, seeking the skills of a corporate speech-language pathologist or professional communication coach can be the answer. This can be the case for those who have had a lifelong struggle with mumbling or rapid speech. In many cases, it can be due to a strong accent. Many medical professionals do not speak English as their native language. While an accent certainly isn’t negative in and of itself, if it is so strong that it interferes with effective communication, it can be problematic and even dangerous in the workplace. An accent-reduction specialist can help identify the speech sounds that are interfering with your intelligibility the most, and develop an individualized plan to modify your accent and make your speech clearer and more effective.

Would you or a colleague benefit from communication training or accent reduction services? Give us a call and see how Corporate Speech Solutions can improve your professional life! Call us at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at info@corporatespeechsolutions.com to learn more. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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