Medical errors caused by poor communication

Of all of the things that may factor into a medical error, basic human communication mistakes or gaps are found to pose serious risks to patients.

It is reasonable for people in New York to expect that when they visit the doctor they will receive the best care possible. Many things can go into making care good and while certainly the training and education of a medical professional contributes to their ability to identify conditions and recommend proper treatment, there is yet another factor that people may too easily overlook-effective communication.

What problems can poor communication cause for patients?

According to Stat News, poor communication can be between medical providers or between a provider and a patient. It may also involve miscommunication or lack of communication.

One study conducted by CRICO Strategies reviewed more than 23,000 cases of alleged medical malpractice and found that more than 7,000 of those resulted in harm to a patient caused by a communication error or gap. Harm could be minor or as serious as death.

The study also indicated that improved communication may well have saved approximately $1.7 billion in costs associated with medical malpractice claims. Even more disturbing is the fact that effective communication is said to have had the ability to prevent close to 2,000 patient deaths.

What can help improve communication?

Stanford Medicine provided details on a study conducted across multiple pediatric hospitals nationwide that showed the results of a new communication protocol used by physicians when changing shifts.

The process involved multiple regimented steps including communicating both in writing and verbally. The last step in the process required the physician coming on duty to repeat to the other provider the information shared as a way of ensuring the details were properly understood. This also provided an opportunity for clarification if needed.

After the study concluded, it was found that adverse events identified as preventable were reduced by 30 percent.

What makes communication so challenging?

Becker's Hospital Review explains that communication relies on human behavior and emotional intelligence. Even among highly educated medical staff these things can vary greatly.

Some emphasis is being given in certain schools on training physicians about communication not by lecturing to them but by having them actively practice appropriate communication styles and techniques.

What should patients do after a medical mistake has occurred?

People in New York who are concerned that they may have been impacted by a mistake made by a health care professional should always contact an attorney promptly. Taking action before a statute of limitations runs out is essential to staying protected.