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Hospital Uses Rhyme to Improve Patient Safety

Two doctors hold a sign that says Rhyme Time!

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In-Time Health System in Baltimore, MD thinks that rhyming will improve their patient safety. Jack Bozán, M.D., Medical Staff President, is happy to discuss the benefits.

“In the medical field, we use mnemonics and acronyms to aid in remembering facts. We look for rhyming to make communication better for our nurses and physicians. It will improve patient quality and safety,” says Dr. Bozán.

“This is an example of what a nurse said the other night during a phone conversation:

‘Dr. Stone, this is, Pamela, nurse on 6 West. My patient, Mr. Henderson, is distressed. He has acid reflux with pain in his chest. He’s feeling sick, and he’s got a fever, is your ear against the phone receiver?’”

Dr. Bozán says that adding rhymes to conversations is fun for nurses and ensures that the physician is focused on listening.

“We should all try rhyming. For example, our metrics on patient satisfaction are better and gaining more traction. But rhyming aside, our nurses and physicians are taking rhyming workshops because it’s hard to find good rhymes for words like esophagus,” says Dr. Bozán.

Mark Donavan, M.D., thoracic surgeon, is warming up to the rhyming idea. “I didn’t want to learn one more useless process – that’s what I thought – then I went to the rhyming workshop. I am so much better with communicating in rhyme. Now when I speak to nurses, I am efficient with their time. In the operating room, the tension is palpable. But with rhyming, it is so much easier saying, ‘Pass the scalpel!’”

We get Dr. Donavan’s rhyming schemes, and we like the way he says what he means. But we wanted to know what nurses think. Mindy Rogers, RN, enjoys the rhyming. “I love it! Rhyming is efficient, and the messages to our patients are so consistent. It helps us communicate plans of care. Now I use it practically everywhere.”

Health care is a high-risk field. It’s nice when ways to improve communication are revealed. With rhyming workshops, In-Time Health System will be well on their way, as they bring safety and quality to patients every day. But Dr. Bozán has us curious. We are a bit frustrated, but not furious. What rhymes with esophagus?




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