Letters to the Editor
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Effective communication is the key

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By: Eric Luo, ABSN Student

In the article, “Providing effective communication to patients who are deaf or hard of hearing,” Omobola Awosika Oyeleye presented the legal obligations of nurses to provide communication regarding patient care to their patients and make sure they can comprehend it. In this case, deaf or hard of hearing patients were in question.

The article discussed the case of a healthcare system denying communication to a deaf or hard of hearing patient. Ethics, morality, and justice issues of nursing care are explored. The case presented discusses a patient who had just received surgery and was provided with video remote interpreting (VRI) service, where the interpreter would be on display to eliminate the need of an on-site interpreter at all times. The issue is that the VRI service was not functional and was clearly not effective. The patient was not provided an on-site interpreter after telling the nurses that VRI was not effective. The keyword here is effective.

As a student nurse and as someone who has a family member who is hard of hearing, this case was rather concerning. In my coursework, I am constantly reminded that we as nurses must do due diligence and be advocates for our patients as well ourselves. As evident in this case excerpt, the policies were unclear and caused the patient distress and distrust in the healthcare system. As each patient is different, we must take into consideration what is effective for them. As the patient was arriving for her surgery, the interpreter should have been on site. Imposing stricter policy adherence and compliance may have possibly prevented this.

In my own reasoning, asking a family member to serve as an interpreter is problematic to our healthcare communication and in turn affects the quality of healthcare delivery. It is also required by law to provide a qualified interpreter as medical terminology and jargon is often confusing to patients and family members not involved in healthcare. Every patient has the right to understand what is being done to their bodies. The article was very informative and the case established an effort for equal opportunity for people with disabilities.

As previously mentioned, I can relate to this personally because my maternal grandmother is hard of hearing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, her health checks have done online, which makes it rather difficult for her to properly understand the doctor’s direction. Needless to say, we did not have an interpreter at home so it was up to my mother and my aunts to provide her instructions. When reading this article, I became motivated and eager to better improve our policy compliance in healthcare settings. The last prompt of the article stood out to me “Nursing leaders must take steps to provide training for all clinical staff. Failing to do so could be costly to all involved.” This is a big statement. To induce change, we need to become leaders and spread awareness.

Eric Luo
ABSN Student
SUNY Downstate College of Nursing

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