Safe practices for effective communication include the following:
- Limiting the verbal communication of the prescription or medication orders to urgent situations in which immediate written or electronic communication is not feasible. For example, the verbal orders can be disallowed when the prescriber is present and the patient’s chart is available. The verbal orders can be restricted to situations in which it is difficult or is impossible for hard-copy or electronic order transmission, such as during a sterile procedure.
- The development of guidelines for requesting and receiving test results on an emergency or STAT basis, the identification and definitions of critical tests and critical values, to whom and by whom the critical test results are reported, and monitoring compliance.
- Writing down, or entering into a computer, the complete order or test result by the receiver of the information; the receiver reading back the order or test result, and the sender confirming that what has been written down and the read-back is accurate. Permissible alternatives for when the read-back process may not always be possible may be identified, such as in the operating theatre and in emergent situations in the emergency department or intensive care unit.
- Use of standardized, critical content for communication between the patient, family, health care practitioner, and others involved in the patient’s care during handovers of patient care.
- Use of standardized methods, forms, or tools to facilitate consistent and complete handovers of patient care.