It’s a running joke that the list of side effects for some medications is often longer than the list of benefits. However, patients often have to accept these potential side effects in order to treat dangerous or frustrating health problems.
Developing side effects after starting a drug can be a very scary experience. Nurses are on the front lines of patient care and typically have the job of communicating with people about their prescriptions. Side effects can disrupt a treatment plan or scare patients into stopping their medication altogether.
Education can help patients feel more comfortable about taking their medications as directed. To help improve outcomes, nurses need to be confident in talking to patients about the potential side effects and benefits of a patient’s prescriptions. Here are some tips for better education and communication.
Communicate and Empathize
One of the top skills for nurses is communication. Patient care is about far more than just dispensing medication and helping patients with their basic tasks. It’s also about helping patients feel comfortable and safe. The best nurses are exceptional communicators, treating each patient with respect and dignity.
Nurses need to be great listeners to provide quality care. They must be able to listen to both doctors and patients, sometimes bridging the gap between the two parties. They must be able to listen to the doctor and understand the treatment plan so they can communicate effectively with the patient.
One of the best ways to help patients feel better about their medications and treatment plan is to be thorough in communicating the benefits and potential side effects of any medication and to empathize with the patient. They might have different food or activity restrictions on some medications, which can be distressing for some people.
As a nurse, providing care means providing compassion and understanding of patients as individuals. Nurses have to be empathetic while still remaining professionals.
Ask Questions to Ensure Patient Understanding
Each patient is different. Not everyone will understand the potential side effects and restrictions immediately, even if they say they do. It’s important for nurses to ask questions to ensure that the patient truly understands the risks and the effect certain lifestyle choices might have on their health.
For example, after you review the side effects and warnings, you might need to ask how often the patient drinks. You might follow that up with a question about how alcohol might affect the drug they will be taking. These kinds of questions will help you gauge true understanding. Don’t rely on them to ask the questions!
Be Transparent and Run Through the Exhaustive List of Side Effects
You should never downplay the potential side effects of medication. The last thing you want is for a patient to develop an issue they weren’t expecting and panic. Be transparent and go through every possible side effect that has been associated with the medication.
Medications can be dangerous when used improperly. Nurses must emphasize medication safety and educate patients on every possible side effect. While an individual patient might not develop any or all of these side effects, it’s important for them to know what is possible.
Use Medication Education Sheets
Learning about side effects can be overwhelming for some patients. They might grow increasingly worried and have trouble remembering what their doctor or nurse has told them about medication side effects.
You can help patients by using medication education sheets, which provide patients with a handy reference whenever they need it. You can highlight the most important information so the patient can see it at a glance. This is a great way to help put patients’ minds at ease.
Use Social Media to Help Educate Patients About Prescription Safety
As a nurse, you have the knowledge to help people live better, healthier lives. If more people develop health literacy, the better they will be able to communicate with their healthcare providers and manage their treatment plan. Social media can help distribute essential educational content that improves lives.
Nurses can use their own social media accounts for this, as long as they say HIPAA compliant. As time goes on, more patients are likely to prefer digital mediums for communication with their healthcare providers. People put a lot of trust in their nurses, so consider leveraging your social media content for a good cause!