Factors Affecting Communication Between Emergency Department Nurses

Malynnda Wright, Illinois Wesleyan University


Communication of essential patient data is vital to provide effective immediate intervention in an emergency department or trauma center. The information must be complete and conveyed in a clear concise manner as quickly as possible. Without effective communication, valuable time can be wasted performing repetitious assessments, instead of conducting procedures that can save lives and reduce the length of the patient's stay. According to the Standards of Emergency Nursing (1975), "Emergency nursing practice is affected by the brevity of patient interaction with the nurse, the stressful climate created by lack of control over the numbers of individuals seeking emergency care, and the limited time frame in which to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention" (p. 5). Since nurses have little control over situations in the emergency department, they must make the best use of the available time through effective communication. Many variables within the emergency setting affect communication. For example, factors related to the individual nurse, such as level of expertise, may affect the quality of communication. Organizational factors may also impact the communication of concerning patient information. Swansburg (1990) identifies that "a supportive climate will produce clear communication to support productive nursing workers and effective teamwork" (p. 386). When factors such as time of day and staffing adequacy affect workers, then they also affect workers' communication. Although many research studies have focused on factors affecting communication between nurses and patients, no nursing studies were found which investigated factors affecting the communication of essential patient information among nurses. Furthermore, no studies were identified which examined communication among nurses In an emergency de partment.