Many patients have difficulty communicating about their healthcare. At present there is no tool to identify these patients. This research investigated whether the Inpatient Functional Communication Interview Staff Questionnaire (IFCI SQ) could detect patients who have difficulty communicating their healthcare needs by investigating the sensitivity, specificity and internal consistency of the IFCI SQ.Fifty patients and their nurses participated in this research. Every second consecutive admission on the general medical ward of a hospital was assessed for communication difficulty by a speech-language pathologist on the IFCI and screened for communication difficulty by a nurse using the IFCI SQ.At a cut off score of <2, the IFCI SQ had a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 77% compared with the IFCI. The IFCI SQ is a useful test in identifying patients who have communication difficulty and is an extremely good test at ruling out patients who do not have communication difficulty. The internal consistency of the IFCI SQ was also high at 0.954.The IFCI SQ is a promising tool to detect patients in hospital with communication difficulty. Further research is required to explore the psychometric properties of the IFCI SQ in more detail.