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Poor communication in hospitals can lead to patient injuries

We all know how important it is to keep the lines of communication open in our own work lives. It is all too easy for a costly mistake to occur simply because a critical piece of information is not properly distributed among workers or if there is a misunderstanding within the ranks regarding a policy or process. And while effective communication processes are essential in all businesses, they are absolutely critical in the healthcare industry. Specifically, a communication breakdown within a hospital could result in a patient being seriously or even fatally injured.

A report released earlier this year revealed just how dangerous events of miscommunication can be. The study examined more than 23,000 medical malpractice suits that involved a patient being harmed. Of those cases, more than 7,000 were attributable to instances of miscommunicated information. More startling is the fact that a lack of communication played a role in more than 25 percent of the malpractice cases involving surgery.

The report cited myriad types of communication breakdowns occurring among care providers, including poor documentation, not reading the patient's medical record and miscommunication regarding the patient's condition.

There were also several causes of breakdowns mentioned in the report, such as issues with electronic health record systems, heavy workloads, and general distractions. And interestingly, there are more breakdowns between those who knew each other than between strangers. This is attributed to a tendency for those who know one another to express themselves less specifically, believing the other person will understand what is being communicated.

Hospital employees have a duty of care to ensure the safety and well-being of their patients. That duty includes making sure that everyone involved in a patient's care has the information necessary to administer proper treatment.

If you or a loved one should suffer a preventable injury due to poor communication between a hospital's doctors, administration or staff, you may want to have a medical malpractice attorney investigate what happened. The attorney can help you hold the responsible parties liable as you seek appropriate compensation.

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