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Why hospitals need to focus on improving communication

In any workplace, efficiency and the quality of a work product are directly tied to how employees are trained and encouraged to communicate. This is especially true in the health care industry with regard to sharing information about patients and patient outcomes.

While the importance of communication and being able to accurately and adequately capture and disseminate information about individual patients is widely known and agreed upon, a recent report proves that a significant number of patients continue to suffer harm, injury and death as a result of ineffective communication.

For the study, research firm CRICO Strategies reviewed some 23,000 medical malpractice claims that were filed between 2009 and 2013. When examining the claims, researchers found that, in roughly 30 percent of the cases, communication problems were cited as contributing to the injuries and deaths of patients. What's more, researchers speculate that the actual number of patients in the U.S. who suffer adversely due to communication errors is likely much higher as many incidents are never detected or reported.

Medical mistakes remain the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and, based upon this and other similar reports, communication problems are a contributing factor in a significant percentage of these deaths. While the introduction of electronic health records has, to a certain degree, improved how patient information is captured; misinformation, miscommunication and a failure to communicate continue to be problems at many hospitals.

Individuals in the New York City area, who have personally been impacted due to a medical error, deserve to know what happened and may also be able to recover damages to account for their injuries and losses. An attorney who handles medical malpractice matters can answer questions and assess a case to determine if legal action is appropriate.

Source: FierceHealthcare, "Healthcare miscommunication cost $1.7B--and nearly 2,000 lives," Zack Budryk, Feb. 1, 2016

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