Many factors come into play when doctor and nurses practice through a trauma informed lens. There's the fundamental understanding of the traumatic nature of medical care and that patients may arrive with an array of previous traumas. Emphasis is placed on the assessment of the patient and family's distress, emotional needs and family supports, with referral to mental health services as needed.
One implied, but often under-emphasized and sometimes missed, component of trauma informed care is listening. Listening to a patient is not always simple. An array of demands and a lack of time steal away doctors' and nurses' attention. Not to mention, expressing their feelings or admitting their struggles does not always come easy for patients and families. Language differences, illness or injury, or medical interventions can all further complicate the communication. Despite this, listening and hearing the patient's needs and concerns links the assessment portion of trauma informed care to the intervention portion. Taking the time to listen keeps doctors and nurses from missing important details, helping them to provide better care, as Marti Trudeau, RN, CPHQ, MPA, shares when recounting a conversation with a patient:
"“What has helped you live so long?” Surely he’d been asked this question many times, yet he thoughtfully answered, “Every morning I wake up, drink a large glass of water, then look in the mirror and smile.”
“You drink a glass of water?” I responded. “Listen to what I said, sweetie,” he answered....
...A spark ignited while I was repeating the conversation to myself: “Wake up, drink a big glass of water, look in the mirror and smile.”
I don’t know why, but this time I listened and heard the “smile” rather than the “water.” It was a revelation. The part that had seemed inconsequential when I first heard it now made so much sense that I was embarrassed that decades had passed before I really heard it."