Why Bedside Manner Matter to Nurses

Why Bedside Manner Matter to Nurses

Nov 20, 2014 | 12:00 pm

You might be wondering, what are nursing bedside manner? According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, “bedside manner” refers to the way a doctor or nurse behaves with patients. It’s easy to see why this should matter, especially for those working in direct-contact healthcare settings, but more reasons continue to sprout up for why nursing bedside manner make a difference.

It Can Impact Compensation

With the rise of online rating systems, such as YELP, and other feedback sites, it’s becoming increasingly popular for healthcare employers to measure patient satisfaction and reward those with good bedside manner. According to a survey by Medical Group Management Association, some of the newest moves in healthcare employment include connecting patient satisfaction metrics with healthcare workers’ compensation.

The 2013 Forbes article “Ouch! Patient Satisfaction Hits Physician Pay” notes that major insurers, including Aetna and Cigna, are already contracting with accountable care organizations, patient-centered medical facilities and other health care entities that tie in satisfaction scores with physician pay. How does this affect nurses? Since they often spend more time by a patient’s side providing care, nursing bedside manners tie in to the overall satisfaction of patients, and employees continue to find reward systems for high-quality care. Be on the look out!

It Can Keep Nurses Out of Trouble

Surveys suggest that health care providers who communicate well with their patients and show genuine interest are less likely to get sued. In the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, author Malcolm Gladwell points to research that shows how healthcare providers who spent slightly more time with their patients, helped them understand what to expect during their visit, used humor and listened actively were less likely to get sued by patients.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) feels that quality patient care, which includes nursing bedside manner, comes from having a well-educated workforce. “Research has shown that lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors, and positive outcomes are all linked to nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and graduate degree levels,” notes the AACN, a group committed to developing a highly qualified nursing workforce that demonstrates both clinical competency and care delivery.

Nursing Bedside Manner Affect Patient Behavior

Some of the newest research from Michigan State University (MSU), published in the Patient Education and Counseling journal, found that a relationship between a healthcare provider and patient that is built on trust and empathy can actually change the patient’s brain’s response to stress. And according to the MSU article “Listen Up, Doc: Empathy Raises Patients’ Pain Tolerance,” doctors who listen carefully have happier patients and better health outcomes. Likewise, a study found on Internet Scientific Publications by Person and Finch points out research that shows patients who feel their provider has poor bedside manner is often less compliant with treatments.

Nursing bedside manner matter, not just for job safety, but for the overall care of patients. After all, that’s why nurses go into the field. It impacts all of us more than we could have ever imagined.