In nursing practice, understanding the caring aspect and awareness of ethical values guiding the profession is important. The increased complexity of health care and the ever-changing demands of patients means that nursing practice is likely to become more technical without caring. Caring is important because it leads to improved patient outcomes and satisfaction upon discharge (Karlsson & Pennbrant, 2020). A nurse must be organized, flexible, and creative in designing changes that can improve caring when dealing with patients. Jean Watson, in her theory of human caring, describes experiences and actions necessary for nurses to demonstrate positive caring attitudes toward patients. A nurse is obligated to exhibit skills like collaboration, communication, and organization to ensure caring is reinforced. Through the utilization of evidence-based practices, nurses can implement changes that promote an understanding of caring when handling patients (Karlsson & Pennbrant, 2020). This discussion identifies an outcome in nursing practice that can be improved and how Watson’s theory of human caring can be used to improve this outcome.
Nursing Practice Outcome
Nurses must be organized, creative, and thorough with all plans and actions aimed at improving the quality of care to patients. The identified outcome for this discussion is effective communication and how it impacts medical errors. There is a close link between effective communication among healthcare workers and patient safety. Current research indicates that ineffective communication among nurses and other healthcare teams is the leading cause of medical errors and patient harm. Communication breakdown happens because of many challenges which include unpredictable healthcare patterns, poor communication structure, understaffing, and differences in education and training. Addressing the issue of communication breakdown can improve quality outcomes and reduce the risk of harm to patients.
Caring science as an academic discipline deals with the development of new knowledge that can be used as a basis for caring. Medication errors is an area that is well-known to cause dissatisfaction among patients and healthcare providers with major impacts on reimbursements. Apart from this outcome, the existence of medication errors shows that healthcare professionals are not doing their jobs in caring for patients. A caring environment provides a space where patients can feel safe resulting in less stress and quick recovery. A review of reports from the Joint Commission indicates that communication breakdown is the root cause of over 70% of sentinel events (Norman et al., 2016). Ineffective handover of information between nursing teams and other healthcare providers, especially physicians greatly impacts patient outcomes. In the acute care setting, medication errors resulting from poor communication cause prolonged hospitalization and inappropriate use of resources. It is important to address the issue of communication to ensure medication errors and patient harm is reduced.
Concept in Watson’s Theory
Caring can be understood as the core of nursing practice with its deep roots in the concrete work of nurses. Watson’s theory describes the human component of caring and the moment-to-moment encounters that necessitate the application of caring science. Jean Watson states that the ultimate goal of nursing is the preservation of human dignity and humanity (Pajnkihar et al., 2017). Through the demonstration of caring, human beings can gain a higher degree of harmony with the mind and generate self-relevance. Nurses can unveil their true thoughts and feelings towards patients through caring actions. Watson explains that human beings cannot be treated as objects and caring should revolve around the development of interpersonal relationships with patients, families, and colleagues. Caregivers need to have good relationships and heal first before taking on the responsibility of caring for others.
The structure of Watson’s theory is built upon 10 carative factors that describe the activities and patterns of caring. For example, the practice of loving-kindness and equanimity within the context of caring consciousness must prevail to promote healing (Kandula, 2019). The concept in Watson’s theory that matches the outcome of medication errors and patient harm as a result of ineffective communication is the creative use of self and all ways of knowing as part of the caring process. Nurses must deepen their understanding of the healing practices via the use of all ways of knowing, being, doing, and becoming.
Ineffective communication is an aspect that is well-known to cause harm to patients either directly or indirectly. Providing nursing care should involve using problem-solving approaches and making decisions that can positively impact the outcomes of patients. Watson explains that the systematic use of creative, scientific problem-solving caring processes is key to improving patient outcomes (Pajnkihar et al., 2017). The increased need for quality today means that nurses must utilize scientific problem-solving approaches to achieve set standards. For example, utilizing evidence-based practices like standardized communication between healthcare teams can help in improving care for patients.
Providing a healing environment is essential to patient-centered care and recovery from illness. Jean Watson’s theory states that creating a healing environment at all levels, whereby wholeness, beauty, comfort, dignity, and peace are potentiated demonstrates caring (Norman et al., 2016). This carative factor closely relates to the issue of medication errors and patient harm as a result of poor communication among healthcare workers. Nurses must recognize that both internal and external environments influence an individual’s health. For instance, the provision of safe emotional and spiritual care promotes healing (Kandula, 2019). Communication among team members and multidisciplinary approaches to patient care greatly contribute to the healing process. Ensuring that good communication exists during care delivery can promote quick recovery and maintenance of trust necessary for inner healing. Watson’s theory recognizes that the purpose of healing is the restoration of wholeness and leaving the patient better than before (Pajnkihar et al., 2017). Ineffective communication hinders positive healing environments by contributing to errors and safety events that have further consequences on the health of patients.
Medical errors are a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the US with problems in communication being the major contributors. To effectively reduce the number of errors and safety events, organizations must strive to improve the aspect of communication. The proposed solution to improve patient outcomes is the use of a communication tool that could serve as a regular part of workflows. For instance, the SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) tool has been shown to standardize and improve communication among healthcare providers (Murphy et al., 2022). This tool can be used across different units and can best serve to reduce medical errors during emergencies, patient transfer, or other related issues. SBAR communication provides a common and predictable structure for communication and can be used in any clinical domain. Standardized communication can help in improving the outcome of medication errors and patient safety by ensuring the passage of all information to other providers during shift handoff.
The process of implementing change in a healthcare organization is complex and requires expertise to prevent setbacks. Although standardized communication tools like SBAR are present in many hospital units, a lack of adequate education and monitoring impairs the achievement of set goals (Murphy et al., 2022). Therefore, adequate education must be provided to healthcare providers upon implementation of the change and sustainable measures put in place to address any setbacks. The utilization of technologies like electronic health records (EHRs) is another method to ensure the improvement of medication errors. These technologies provide nurses with electronic handoffs that can be easily implemented to improve patient outcomes and safety. Overall, standardization of communication makes applicable tools part of workflows and the organizational culture.
Concept in Watson’s Theory
The concept in Watson’s theory that matches the proposed change is engaging in genuine teaching and learning that attends to the unity of being and meaning (Kandula, 2019). This concept requires nurses to stay within others’ frames of reference to ensure the provision of effective care to patients. Continuous education and training are important to ensure nurses acquire new knowledge that can help in caring for patients. It is also important for nurses to acknowledge that information from others can help improve patient outcomes. The implementation of standardized communication aligns with this concept because it is an evidence-based strategy that must be taught to nurses to reduce medication errors. Learning about effective communication will enable nurses to relate well with colleagues and apply communication tools to improve patient outcomes.
Jean Watson’s theory of human caring addresses how demonstrating caring is central to nursing and how it promotes better health outcomes than just curing. Caring consists of carative factors that define what nurses must do to achieve positive patient outcomes. The issue of medication errors resulting from poor communication can be addressed using Watson’s theory. The carative factor that directly links to this issue is the creative use of self and all ways of knowing as part of the caring process. This concept requires nurses to use a scientific problem-solving approach to guide decision-making during care delivery. The proposed solution to address the identified problem is the use of standardized communication tools like SBAR to improve information sharing between nurses and other healthcare professionals. The carative factor that aligns with the proposed implementation strategy is engaging in genuine teaching and learning that attends to the unity of being and meaning. Nurses must participate in education and training to ensure they understand how standardized communication tools work and their relevance in reducing medication errors.
Kandula, U.R. (2019). Watson human caring theory. JNPE, 5(1), 28-31. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Usha-Kandula-2/publication/338621474_Watson_Human_Caring_Theory/links/5e1fe34392851cafc3873916/Watson-Human-Caring-Theory.pdf
Karlsson, M., & Pennbrant, S. (2020). Ideas of caring in nursing practice. Nursing Philosophy, 21(4), e12325. https://doi.org/10.1111/nup.12325
Murphy, M., Engel, J. R., McGugan, L., McKenzie, R., Thompson, J. A., & Turner, K. M. (2022). Implementing a standardized communication tool in an intensive care unit. Critical Care Nurse, 42(3), 56-64. https://doi.org/10.4037/ccn2022154
Norman, V., Rossillo, K., & Skelton, K. (2016). Creating healing environments through the theory of caring. AORN Journal, 104(5), 401–409. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aorn.2016.09.006
Pajnkihar, M., Štiglic, G., & Vrbnjak, D. (2017). The concept of Watson’s carative factors in nursing and their (dis)harmony with patient satisfaction. PeerJ, 5, e2940. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2940
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