Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Good communication is key to good care

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 19 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1704

Re: Communicating effectively by lamenting the issues correctly

Thanks for Dr. Goh’s interest in my response. Dr. Goh quoted my comment about too much irrelevant information given. However, he interrupted my following sentences, which include a suggested solution, and most importantly the conclusion: "Communication is often a two-way street." It is often more than one person's responsibilities.

I wonder whether this miscommunication occurred due to Dr. Goh having only 1-2 minutes to read my response, which he alluded to as his usual attention span. This incident clearly demonstrated one major theme in my letter: the problem with interruption. I rarely encounter handover meetings that require 5 minutes on each patient. Nevertheless, I have been involved in some complicated individual cases that took us longer than 5 minutes, but helped the team members to reach a clear consensus.

I do not recall ever calling the referrers or recipients of poor handover as victims in my letter. As such, I do not see Dr. Goh as a victim of this miscommunication we had. But I do feel sorry for patients who receive suboptimal care due to poor communication. I understand some recipients value their own priorities, and hope that patient safety is at least one of their priorities.

Competing interests: I have been paid for working as a medical doctor, but not writing this letter.

26 April 2018
Eugene Y.H. Yeung
Medical Doctor
Royal Lancaster Infirmary
Ashton Road, Lancaster, LA1 4RP, UK