Communication failure is a significant risk factor in the field of healthcare. Preventable medical errors cause needless injury and death, and communication errors are at the root of many medical malpractice cases. A healthcare research company reports that communication failure is the cause of at least 30 percent of all medical malpractice claims. The report, Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures, analyzed national medical malpractice claims involving communication breakdowns across the spectrum of health care services and settings. Some of the report’s findings illustrate the following percentage of cases stem from communication failures:
- 38% of all general medicine medical malpractice cases;
- 34% of all obstetrics cases;
- 32% of all nursing cases; and
- 26% of all surgery cases.
Examples of miscommunication in a healthcare setting
Communication among medical professionals, between medical professionals and patients, and any combination thereof can result in a communication failure. There could be:
- Failure to communicate vital details about a patient’s condition
- Failure to consult the patient’s medical records
- Failure to read the doctor’s orders
- Inadequate notes or other documentation
- Misinformation conveyed to the patient
- Lack of informed consent
- Miscommunication because of language barriers
How miscommunication can lead to medical negligence
Some examples in the report of the unfortunate mishaps that can occur in the absence of clear communication include:
- A nurse failing to pass on critical information about a patient’s condition to their doctor, causing the patient’s death.
- A staff person received calls from a diabetic patient, but failed to relay the message to the patient’s care provider. The patient later died from ketoacidosis.
- A woman asked to have her tubes tide after delivering her baby by way of C-section. Her instructions were not shared with the obstetrician. The patient later filed a medical malpractice lawsuit when she got pregnant again.
The report points to the many obvious challenges that medical professionals face in the fast-paced healthcare system, such as heavy patient loads, complex electronic health records, and constant interruptions. One of the solutions the report points to is the I-PASS program , developed at the Boston Children’s Hospital. I-PASS is an evidence-based handoff program designed to eliminate medical errors and verbal and written miscommunication.
When medical professionals do not have a system in place to help facilitate clear communication, it can lead to mistakes that can cause injury and death. If your injury was a result of medical negligence, a medical malpractice attorney from our Kentucky or Ohio offices can inform you of your legal options.
If the medical profession has failed you or if you or a family member has sustained an injury because of medical malpractice, you need a strong advocate to ensure you can recover the damages you are owed. Our skilled team at Crandall & Pera Law can help. Call our Kentucky or Ohio offices at 877-686-8879, or complete our contact form to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer now.