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Communication errors can result in medical malpractice claims

Feb 17, 2016 | Doctor Errors

New York patients may find it interesting that poor communications between patients and hospital staff contributed to about 7,000 of 23,000 medical malpractice claims that were filed between 2009 and 2013. Of these claims, more than 1,700 involved the death of a patient. The numbers indicate that miscommunication is a major problem that needs to be addressed by hospitals and staff.

The most common issues include miscommunication regarding the condition of the patient, improper documentation and responses to patient complaints that are unsympathetic. Additionally, informed consent is also often inadequate. While these problems may not appear to be major at first, a 2013 report showed that medical errors, many of which are caused by miscommunication or total communication failures, are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. Patient safety advocates have been pushing to improve communication since 1994, but it appears that very little improvement has actually been made.

There may be contributing factors to communication errors. For example, many staff members are overworked and have stressful workloads that prevent proper communication. Many roles are also ambiguous, leading to problems involving the workplace hierarchy and muddling who may be responsible for what.

Doctor errors that result from miscommunication between staff members or between the patient and staff members can result in serious complications for the patient. In some cases, the patient’s condition may worsen, requiring extended periods of hospitalization. Those patients who have been harmed in such a manner may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney in order to see if filing a lawsuit would be an appropriate way of seeking compensation for the losses that have been incurred.