Nurse and frequent contributor to the New York Times Theresa Brown writes a column for AJN called What I’m Reading, in which she reflects on a recent book about an aspect of health care. This month she examines What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear (Beacon Press, 2017), by physician Danielle Ofri.
The book is about communication with patients, about real listening and the kinds of listening that often substitute for it, sometimes to the real harm of patients. Brown also considers some differences between the ways physicans and nurses tend to talk to patients. Here’s a brief excerpt, but we recommend that you read the short article, which is currently free:
Can any of us, nurses or physicians, say that we always listen as well as we should, giving each patient’s story our full attention? Like physicians, nurses feel the unrelenting pressure of time constraints. Although I try very hard to listen well, I’m sure there are times when I fail. Ofri’s book reminds us that it is clinically important to listen to what our patients say. Ironically, such listening can save time in the long run. But the main reason for doing so is simple: in order to give patients the best care possible, we need to hear what they’re actually trying to tell us.
Brown’s column is not a book review; while she draws readers’ attention to books that are well worth reading, the column goes beyond this purpose, using the books she reads as points of departure for brief searching looks at her own nursing practice and the health care field at large. The column appears every several months in the journal.