Whether going into the doctor’s office for a yearly visit or running to the emergency room for a sudden issue, communication with medical professionals is critical. Amid the bustle of the office or ER, doctors, nurses and staff may transmit the wrong information, which could lead to a disaster.
According to the National Institutes of Health, communication failures lead to approximately 27% of medical malpractice cases each year. These cases, which lead to patient injury, ongoing medical issues and even death, are completely preventable.
What types of communication failures?
Communication between all parties is essential during all parts of medical treatment, from patient check-in to patient instructions once they head home. Miscommunication can occur in any of the following:
- Patient’s giving medical staff a complete history of medications and conditions
- Medical staff charting patient’s conditions properly
- Doctor’s exchanging information with other medical professionals
- Doctor’s exchanging information with pharmacies in calling in prescriptions, allergies and completing patient’s medication profile
- Doctors obtaining information from patients prior to a surgical procedure
Patients may not understand what to do following a surgical procedure or how to care for themselves if the proper information is not given.
What to do
You can help minimize your risk of injury and death by ensuring you have proper communication with your medical professionals. Although you have no control over conversations exchanged between medical staff and professionals, you can make sure you ask plenty of questions. It is also helpful to follow up with your doctor, or seek another opinion if you do not agree with the doctor’s diagnosis.