The bond between patients and the medical staff who care for them is critical for the best healthcare experience. There is a dedicated level of trust that must exist to allow open, honest conversations for the sake of diagnosing and treating complex medical issues.
When there are errors in communication channels, however, that important exchange of information is diminished. Communication breakdowns during the course of medical treatment have significant consequences for patients and providers alike.
"Twelve percent of the lawsuits referenced poor documentation."
The dangers of inadequate healthcare communication
According to a study released by CRICO Strategies, miscommunication played a role in 30 percent of nearly 24,000 medical malpractice lawsuits. Within those communication-based lawsuits, medical facilities lost $1.7 billion, and 2,000 patients lost their lives.
Miscommunications among medical providers slightly outnumbered cases of patient to provider communication errors. The top-cited cause of harm to patients was a miscommunication between staff members over a patient's condition. Twelve percent of the lawsuits referenced poor documentation and another 7 percent cited the failure of medical staff to read patients' medical records.
Losses that stem from communication errors can be especially painful, because the issues could have been easily avoided. Small errors can have large consequences and it's a hard realization to face that due diligence could have saved patients' lives.
Using technology to improve healthcare communications
Medical teams are dedicated, hard-working professionals who have a great deal of high-pressure responsibilities that fall on their shoulders. Sometimes, there simply aren't enough hours in the day to complete all the tasks that need to be done. That's why standardized, detailed record-keeping systems can help streamline the documentation processes. Comprehensive communication systems within a healthcare network make record keeping easier and help to minimize the risks of errors. These systems can also save time, as staff who are trained on these programs and familiar with their forms can quickly locate the information that they need to make critical, timely medical decisions.
According to a study from the The Clinical Biochemist Reviews, even small medical teams can face large, complicated webs of communication. Properly documenting communications from face-to-face conversations, phone calls and emails between patients and differing specialists and staff members from a medical community can be hard to track and maintain without a proper plan in place. The source states that a range of technical devices and communication services play a role in developing a more well-rounded recording system. Staff can use smartphones and wearable tech to give them constant access to online networks. This makes it easier to check up on information for a patient during a face-to-face consultation. The ability to quickly and effortlessly locate valuable information helps medical providers make more informed decisions to improve the care for their patients.
Doctors, nurses, technicians and the wide array of medical staff that patients interact with all play vital roles in improving those patients' lives. To help them make the most of their industry knowledge and expertise, they need to have communication systems in place that truly work for them.
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