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J Ky Med Assoc. 2007 Apr;105(4):165-9.

Physician and nurse relationships, a key to patient safety.

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SOARS Project, Kentucky Hospital Association, Louisville 40223, USA.


A negative or intimidating relationship between a physician and a nurse can create a situation that puts the patient at risk. There are four areas in which communication between these groups affect patient safety and physician liability. Multiple studies have revealed that nurses who are intimidated by physicians do not contact the care provider as quickly for a patient condition change or consult with the physician as readily to clarify a medication order. Patients will be put at risk if there are not enough nurses to staff hospitals. The nursing shortage will become a greater issue as the current nursing workforce ages. The average age of a nurse in Kentucky is 44 years old. To avoid a serious nursing shortage there is a need to fill the open positions left by retiring nursing staff. Attracting the new graduates will require a positive, healthy working environment. If a course of treatment is challenged by the courts, a solid partner relationship between a physician and a nurse puts the physician in a stronger position. There are multiple organizations that have developed suggested actions that will encourage a healthy working relationship with better communication between physicians and nurses. Collaboration between physicians, nurses, and hospital administrators is the only way a healthy work environment will be attained. It is the responsibility of each group to begin the conversations that will improve this patient safety barrier.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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