Previous article Table of Contents  Next article

Year : 2020  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 564-565

Aftermath of COVID-19: Need for developing novel bedside communication skills?

1 Undergraduate, MGM Medical College, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, ITS Dental College, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Department of Anesthesiology, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, Bihar, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Prakash K Dubey
E 3/4, IGIMS Campus, Patna - 800 014, Bihar
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sja.SJA_457_20

Rights and Permissions
Date of Submission09-May-2020
Date of Decision09-May-2020
Date of Acceptance19-May-2020
Date of Web Publication24-Sep-2020

How to cite this article:
Dubey N, Dubey P, Dubey PK. Aftermath of COVID-19: Need for developing novel bedside communication skills?. Saudi J Anaesth 2020;14:564-5

How to cite this URL:
Dubey N, Dubey P, Dubey PK. Aftermath of COVID-19: Need for developing novel bedside communication skills?. Saudi J Anaesth [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jun 29];14:564-5. Available from:


Effective communication skill is key to effective critical care management. Ever since the concept of informed consent appeared, the concept of communication among the health care professionals and with the patient's family has taken a new meaning. Effective communication should be precise, clear, comprehensive, and two-way. Apart from technical and emotional aspects, communication in an intensive care unit entails ethical issues also.

The COVID-19 pandemic has mandated several changes in clinical practice. One of them is the use of personal protection equipment or the isolation suits in the operation rooms and intensive care units. The protection provided by these suits to health care professionals have not come without a price, though. Not only it denies access to amenities like food, drinks, and attending to nature's calls, but also it has limited the use of basic equipment like a stethoscope. Another major issue encountered due to these suits in critical care settings is the problem associated with effective bedside communication among the health care professionals.

Use of pen and paper or electronic note books may be useful in these settings, but only in a limited way. A recent article has suggested use of intercom and dedicated smart phones.[1] Others have described use of a printed “Call airway Team” card for difficult intubation, use of walkie-talkies, and communication white boards.[2] However, these measures have their own limitations. Fogging of goggles or face shield are known to hamper the vision of care givers in the intensive care units. Difficulty in writing or using communication devices while wearing double gloves may also be an issue.

We suggest developing a sign language to overcome these problems. As it is also difficult to appreciate facial expressions while donning an isolation suit, only hand signs can be used to convey any message. Hand gestures are frequently used and is an expressive gesture used by us. As most of these communications involve technical terms, dosages etc., the novel communication method must address these issues also, apart from being easy to learn for health care professionals.

One of the available templates for developing this communication method is the sign language used by people with speech and language impairment. Hand gesture recognition is known to provide an intelligent and natural way of human computer interaction, which is a branch of artificial intelligence. By converting hand gestures into mathematical algorithms, it may be possible for us to communicate not only with each other but also with the machines and computers that we use in our health care setups.

The pandemic is here to stay. Some more might appear in future. With the increasing role of critical care physicians in managing these illnesses in a constrained environment, developing a novel communication technique is the need of the hour. Frequent communication among the healthcare workers in the highly stressful setup will also help in providing emotional support, encouragement, and appreciation to them.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Mojoli F, Mongodi S, Grugnetti G, Muzzi A, Baldanti F, Bruno R, et al. Setup of a dedicated coronavirus intensive care unit: Logistical aspects. Anesthesiology 2020. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000003325. [Epub ahead of print].  Back to cited text no. 1
Liew MF, Siow WT, MacLaren G, See KC. Preparing for COVID-19: Early experience from an intensive care unit in Singapore. Crit Care 2020;24:83.  Back to cited text no. 2

This article has been cited by
1 Sign language can reduce communication interference in Emergency Department
O.P. Sanjeev, U.S. Mishra, A. Singh
The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2021;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Previous article    Next article
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  IN THIS Article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded87    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal