The failure of medical professionals to communicate regarding any healthcare matter can pose serious outcomes. While communication failures are varied, the implications are real: unsafe patient care. A report issued by CRICO, a Harvard medical community owned insurance program, analyzed national medical malpractice claims and found that more than 30 percent of all claims involve a communication failure. These claims involve communication breakdowns where acts, figures, or findings got lost between the individuals who had that information and those who needed it—across the spectrum of health care services and settings. The report concluded that communication failures in the healthcare system can be linked to 1,744 deaths during a five-year period, plus $1.7 billion in malpractice costs.

What are some examples of healthcare related communication failures?

• When a nurse does not inform a doctor that their patient’s symptoms have worsened, their vital signs have changed, or that the patient has medication allergy.
• If a patient has multiple prescribers, the patient may have been given two drugs that poorly interact.
• A doctor may fail to order the right test or a radiologist may fail to give a doctor the correct test results in a timely manner.
• If important medical information isn’t shared between a specialist and a patient’s primary care physician, the patient could be at risk.

As an advocate for your health—or the health of a loved one—do not feel pressured or rushed by a healthcare professionals. Follow up with your providers and ask questions if you are unclear on a certain topics or issues. Also, never hesitate to seek a second opinion when necessary.

Those responsible for severe medical mistakes should be held liable. If you feel a communication failure may have occurred and subsequently caused you or a loved one harm, it is best to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer to learn about potential cause for legal recourse. To learn more, contact the Potter Burnett Law Firm today. Feel free to contact us online or give us a call at (410) 849-4117.