For many New York residents, when they think about medical errors they think about things like being given the wrong medication, having a sponge or other item left inside the body after a surgery or failing to have a serious illness diagnosed. Certainly these are all examples of medical mistakes but there is another root culprit out there that many may not always think about: poor communication.
As reported by Stat News, a study of malpractice cases conducted by Crico Strategies found that almost 30 percent of the cases in the study involved some type of communication error or gap. Even worse is the fact that 1,744 people are said to have died because of these communication problems. One example involved abdominal pain and a drop in red blood cell count in a post-operative patient who later died from internal bleeding. The nurse was aware of the symptoms but failed to alert the doctor.
Becker’s Hospital Review corroborates the problem with details of a study done by the University of California, San Francisco. This study’s results showed that at least 25 percent of hospital readmissions could have been prevented with better communication. The communication failures in this study involved those between providers as well as between providers and their patients.
While some groups are trying to find ways to teach better communication skills, ensuring these are put into practice may be a harder thing to achieve as this really involves changing behaviors. Also a problem can be the cumbersome internal structures of medical organizations and charting programs that are hard to use.