Medical errors can happen for many different reasons, from physician burnout and distraction to laboratory test mistakes or electronic health record errors. Yet no matter what the reason might be for a medical mistake, if that error results in a patient injury, a healthcare provider may be liable. Poor communication is one common reason for medical errors in a variety of healthcare settings. According to an article in the HIPAA Journal, “effective communication is essential in any business,” yet ensuring effective communication in healthcare is critical. Indeed, as the article underscores, the “effects of poor communication in healthcare can have extremely serious consequences,” including irreparable and fatal patient injuries.
If you or someone you love suffered harm because of a medical error, you may be able to move forward with a medical malpractice claim. Our Santa Fe medical malpractice attorneys can assess your case today. In the meantime, we want to provide you with more information about medical mistakes caused by communication problems in the healthcare industry.
When Do Communication Errors Happen?
According to the journal article, most communication errors happen when shift changes occur in hospital and outpatient settings, or “when care of a patient is handed over to a different caregiver.” Any communications that occur can have problematic issues, from being inaccurate to being incomplete or ambiguous. Then, when the next provider takes over, that provider will either act on the inaccurate information provided, or will need to make assumptions if the information is ambiguous or incomplete. Ultimately, as the article explains, these kinds of communication errors can result in “patients receiving the wrong treatment or procedure, being given incorrect medication, or could result in delays to essential tests and treatments, all of which will negatively affect patient outcomes.”
Communication errors can also occur in patient files and records when medical information gets entered. For example, information contained in electronic health records might be entered incorrectly, leading to a communication error with a subsequent physician or a follow-up specialist. Communication errors can also occur between patients and healthcare providers if the healthcare provider is not paying close attention to what the patient says. In such scenarios, the healthcare provider might put inaccurate information into the patient’s file or fail to record essential information about symptoms or medications that the patient provides.
How to Prevent Communication Errors
Healthcare providers need to understand the serious risks associated with communication errors and to take steps to ensure that mistakes are not made in shift changes, and that all patient information is conveyed fully and accurately.
In addition, while patients should not have to worry about the risks of injury due to a communication error, patients can take steps to reduce the likelihood of a communication error. They can understand their full medical history and discuss it in detail with each healthcare provider to ensure that all information is accurate and complete.
Contact a Santa Fe Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you have questions about seeking compensation for an injury caused by a medical mistake, one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Santa Fe can assist you today. Contact Slate Stern Law to learn more about how we can help with your case.