Communication is essential in a medical environment. Unfortunately, when communication breaks down between physicians, surgeons, and nursing staff, errors can occur, and it is the patient who will suffer from those errors.
A 2016 study of cases at Harvard-affiliated hospitals showed that in roughly 30% of all medical malpractice situations, there was some kind of breakdown in communication. Based on their findings, researchers believed, “Hospitals and doctors’ offices nationwide might have avoided nearly 2,000 patient deaths — and $1.7 billion in malpractice costs — if medical staff and patients communicated better,” per STAT News.
The study examined 23,658 records of medical malpractice claims between 2009 and 2013. Communication errors harmed more than 7,000 patients.
Rushing leads to distraction, which leads to communication errors
When medical professionals are in a hurry, they can forget to relay valuable information about a patient to other medical professionals on the case. This can include forgetting to enter information into a chart or failing to update electronic health records. The constant rushing around leaves professionals easily distracted.
Distraction can lead to communication errors in a medical environment even on “slow” days, of course. Although medical professionals are trained to spot problems, there are times when they may be distracted by another case or an unrelated issue. If they are not thinking clearly and not paying enough attention to the patients, they might forget to relay specific information that other medical staff members need to know before they begin working with the patients, performing any surgical procedures, or providing specific treatments.
Hospitals can be liable when communication errors cause injuries
STAT News explains that “heavy workload, hierarchical workplace culture, cumbersome electronic health records, and constant interruptions” can all contribute to communication errors. So can understaffing. Multiple studies have found that “High patient-to-nurse ratios are associated with an increase in medical errors, as well as patient infections, bedsores, pneumonia, MRSA, cardiac arrest, and accidental death.” The same can be said when the doctor-to-patient ratio is low.
When these errors occur, whether they are the result of poor communication, distraction, or any other reason, the hospital itself may be liable for any acts of negligence. Staffing concerns as well as training are both in the purview of hospital administrators. If they fail to uphold their duty to the patients, those administrators can be held accountable.
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Were you injured by medical professionals due to communication errors and mistakes that were made in the hospital or at the doctor’s office? You may have the right to seek compensation for the various injuries you have suffered. If you are in the West Tennessee area, Bailey & Greer, PLLC can review your case. Reach us at 901-475-7434 or submit your information on our convenient contact form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team in Memphis or Jackson.