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December 2012

People filming jpeg
A film crew captures a consultation in Latrobe Regional Hospital’s emergency department.

Young doctors face cameras

What business has a film crew in the emergency department of Latrobe Regional Hospital?

The explanation begins with patient feedback and ends with better communication between doctors and patients.

In 2010–11, Latrobe Regional Health received 59 complaints regarding patients’ ability to understand ED doctors who did not have English as a first language.

As a result, the hospital embarked on a pilot communication project aimed at junior doctors who had been identified as needing help with their English-language skills.

Ten doctors were filmed during their interactions with patients and the DVDs were sent to a professional linguist for analysis.

The doctors were also provided with copies of the films for their own appraisal.

The linguist provided a report to the 10 participating doctors and ran general feedback and education sessions with the group.

The doctors also met one-on-one with the linguist to address individual areas for improvement.

The project has resulted in improved communications in the ED with the number of complaints relating to communication difficulties falling to 37 in 2011–12.

The doctors involved in the project reported greater self-awareness about their communication and behaviour when interacting with patients and all of them had changed their approach and expression in consultations.