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Communication Problems and Medical Errors

People who seek medical attention should be able to trust that they will receive appropriate care. In many situations, a patient will be evaluated and treated properly. However, there are too many situations in which errors are made. These errors can leave a person with a lifelong injury. Some errors even contribute to the deaths of patients.

Communication has been identified as a major contributing factor to medical errors. Communication errors may be introduced between the provider and the patient, or between multiple providers.

Studying the effect of good communication

As explained by Becker’s Hospital Review, a study was conducted to identify the impact of improved communication between providers and patients. For a little more than two years, the staff at seven hospitals followed a new communication protocol called I-PASS. The results showed a drop by almost 38% in the number of preventable adverse events.

The process hinged on something very basic: a provider would verbally give instructions to a patient in plain, non-medical language, and then ask for the patient or family to repeat it. This repetition allowed providers to confirm that patients properly understood what they heard.

A webinar hosted by Becker’s Hospital Review discussed the problems associated with provider-to-provider communications. The incompatibility of different systems used by different medical organizations was identified as a key culprit in miscommunications. This contributed to the recommendation that a solution to any particular medical system be developed, allowing information entered once to actually be received and used to deliver care to patients.


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We are dedicated to supporting families during the most challenging times, with a focus exclusively on cases involving catastrophic injuries or the loss of a loved one. Please reach out if you have any questions. We look forward to speaking with you.

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