Robert A. Solomon, P.C.
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Communication failures often lead to death

According to a recent study conducted by CRICO Strategies, nearly 2,000 patient deaths over the past five years could have been avoided if patients and medical staff had more efficient communication.

Unfortunately, the study turned up a variety of horror stories, none of which a family or medical professional ever wants to personally face. For example, in one case, a nurse neglected to tell a surgeon that a patient experienced a drop in red blood count and abdominal pain following surgery. As a result, they overlooked the patient's internal bleeding, eventually leading to death.

The most alarming part of the study, which examined records from more than 23,000 cases, is that many of the problems could have been avoided with better communication.

The report also touched on electronic medical records, which are meant to improve communication. However, the study shows that these records often have the opposite effect.

For instance, a woman's cancer diagnosis was put off for a year because her lab result was not flagged for review by her primary care physician.

Miscommunication or a lack of communication continues to plague the medical industry, often leading to serious injury, illness, or death. In fact, an estimate by the Joint Commission states that miscommunication among staff during patient transfers contributed to approximately 80 percent of serious medical mistakes.

The medical field is not perfect. Mistakes can and will happen from time to time. However, many can be prevented with proper communication. As a patient, you can protect against this type of medical mistake by asking questions and making sure everybody is on the same page.

Source: STAT, "Communication failures linked to 1,744 deaths in five years, US malpractice study finds," Melissa Bailey, Feb. 01, 2016

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