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How does miscommunication contribute to medical errors?

Communication is key. When you communicate with others, you may be sharing vital bits of information with others. This is especially true in the medical industry, where lives are on the line. When you go into see physicians or other medical professionals, you trust that they will communicate effectively with other doctors to achieve what is in your best interest. Yet, an analysis shows that miscommunication between healthcare professionals is one of the major causes of medical errors in the United States.

The analysis was published in the Journal of Patient Safety and showed that improved communication in the medical community could reduce medical errors and resulting patient injury by up to 30 percent. This says a lot when medical errors are the third leading cause of death, preceded by cancer and heart disease. In the study, researchers reported between 210,000 and 440,000 patients are victims of medical mistakes and suffer otherwise preventable injuries that lead to death.

During the course of a hospital stay, change in care or a simple doctor’s appointment, your information is passed from doctors and nurses to medical assistants and pharmacists. Every time the information is exchanged, there is a chance of misinterpretation or miscommunication. Wrong information can cause surgeons to perform the wrong procedure on the wrong patient, operate on the wrong body parts or overlook serious allergies to medication. Physicians may miss a key component of a patient’s medical history or miscommunicate when calling in a prescription for a patient to the pharmacist. All of these errors are potentially life threatening.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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