Tip of the Month

Give patients an extra thank you after a long wait

Long waits are the most common cause of patient complaints in many EDs, so why not give patients a special "thank you" when wait times are long?

ED nurses at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, TN, make sure that patients know their patience is appreciated. "We announce that every patient is important to us and ask that they bear with us while we are trying to give each person care," says Donna L. Mason, RN, MS, CEN, nurse manager of the ED. Nurses say this at triage to every patient who has to wait so they know what to expect, and when the ED is crowded, a charge nurse announces it to the entire waiting room.

While patients and their family members are waiting to see a physician, nurses offer "extras" including warm blankets for their comfort; cappuccino, coffee, or hot cocoa; and meal vouchers for the hospital cafeteria. "It is the small things patients and their families appreciate after a long wait," says Mason. [Editor's note: For more information, contact Mason at Vanderbilt University Hospital, 1211 Medical Center Drive, Nashville, TN 37232-7240. Phone: (615) 343-7223. Fax: (615) 322-1494. E-mail: donna.mason@vanderbilt.edu.]