It’s a nearly constant battle: Patients insist on a prescription for an antibiotic even though it’s not indicated, putting prescribers in the unenviable position of either complying with an unreasonable and possibly dangerous demand or doing the right thing and incurring the unsatisfied patient’s wrath (possibly including poor ratings and complaints online). A new post on PatientEngagementHIT suggests that focusing on better communication between provider and patient could go a long way toward resolving such conflicts with the provider’s good name intact. This would be especially beneficial in urgent care; the PatientEngagementHIT piece quotes Urgent Care Association CEO Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC as reasoning that urgent care sees more than its share of antibiotic-seeking patients because those patients see the prescription as an immediate need, rather than one they can explore with their primary care physician in a few days. Further, the established relationship between the PCP and the patient might make it easier for the doctor to dissuade the patient of the need for an antibiotic when it’s not warranted. To make up for that, urgent care providers may need to focus on basic communication skills introduce yourself by name when you enter the room, maintain eye contact with the patient (especially when they’re speaking), and try not to focus too much on your EMR. Doing so may help you earn the patient’s trust quickly, and generate enough credibility for them to believe you when you say they don’t need an antibiotic—and in fact could actually be harmed down the road if they get sick with a resistant infection. Further, it can help to recommend alternatives to antibiotics that will help the patient feel comfortable until their nonbacterial illness passes.
Improving Patient–Provider Communication Can Also Improve Antibiotic Stewardship