Before I became a nurse, my (first) college diploma says I have degrees in communication journalism and economics. I use those skills every day as it relates to interacting with patients and the costs associated with health care decisions. Today I am going to discuss an aspect of patient communication: the designated point person. 

Simply put, a medical professional who is allowed to use their time efficiently is going to deliver quality care. It seems simple, right? Let the professional do what they are trained to do and good things will happen, bad things avoided. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen as often as it should.

One of those reasons for inefficiency is having to explain a patient’s progress to multiple family members, multiple times. It is to the benefit of staff and patient to have a point person designated. A point person is a willing and trusted member of the patient’s entourage that can update everyone else.

Most of the time the point person is the spouse, child, parent, health care proxy, or close friend. The best time to designate a point person is upon initial assessment of the patient, if possible.

The point person helps promote quality care as they manage the family’s desire for progress updates while the patient focuses solely on recovering. It helps the medical staff because they can say, “(patient) has requested you get in touch with (point person) for updates so we can focus on providing (patient) the best care possible.”

This is a diplomatic way to manage families while continuing to keep the focus on the patient’s care. Nurses and physicians don’t want to take time away from assessing the patient and potentially miss an important finding. Having one person to update, per the patient’s request, allows us to best manage our time and provide quality health care.


FAQ: Keep in mind HIPAA rules apply.

  • Q: Why wasn’t I made the point person?
    • A: Because you weren’t (DO NOT SAY THIS!).
    • A: (SAY THIS) I recommend discussing this with (point person) so (patient) can focus on recovering.
  • Q: But (point person) and I hate one another…
    • A: I’m sorry, fixing your family dynamic is not on my list of things to do this shift (DO NOT SAY THIS!).
    • A: (SAY THIS) I am sorry, (patient) has selected (point person) so they can focus on healing. If you are able to visit (patient) in person, they can update you directly.
  • Q: This is ridiculous I should be able to know what’s going on…
    • A: That’s not a question…(DO NOT SAY THIS!) 
    • A: (SAY THIS)…(Patient) has selected (point person) to keep friends and family updated on their condition, here is the contact information if you don’t already have it.