Linda Bloom, MPA, RN, OCN, highlights how tools such as audio interpretation technology and clear masks can help nurses and patients overcome communication barriers in oncology.
In this episode of The Vitals, Oncology Nursing News® spoke with Linda Bloom, MPA, RN, OCN, about strategies to improve communication among patients with limited English proficiency who are admitted to surgical oncology. Bloom, who is a clinical nurse IV at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, presented on this topic during the 48th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Meeting, and the findings have been published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.1,2
As Bloom explains in the discussion, perianesthesia nurses and language assistance staff joined forces to improve communication for patients with limited English proficiency, including those with hearing, speech, or visual impairments. Nurses were provided with tablets embedded with 2 video interpreter applications, as well as smart phones and wearable communication devices with audio interpreter options. American Sign Language interpreters were available through the video interpreter tablets so that nurses could communicate with hearing impaired patients, and clear masks were distributed so that these patients could lip read. White boards were provided to help communication with non-verbal patients, and magnifiers and voice recorders were used to help improve communication with visually impaired patients.
Overall, the introduction of these devices allowed patients have a voice during their presurgical assessment and ensured that the information being discussed was accurate and clear. Moreover, by leveraging trained medical interpreters who understand medical terminology, nurses and health care staff could ensure that patients were fully informed of the procedures they would need to have.
“Patient safety should always be the priority,” Bloom told Oncology Nursing News. “Accurate and precise communication ensures that patient safety is prioritized to the highest degree.”
“When the patient had to go to the room for the procedure, she clutched the amplifier and earpiece and tried to grab the mic. [She] said, ‘You can't take this away—I haven't been able to hear since I [got] here.’” Time stamp (TS) 7:33
“The Creole language speaking assistant heard him before the interpreter had [time] to tell me and texted his daughter. I immediately knew we had to get a social worker involved.” TS 10:22
“Some of [this technology] is very low tech: a whiteboard for a patient who is nonverbal. They love it… people don't realize it's easier than pen and paper because you can erase it; you can write more.” TS 12:33
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