One of the biggest factors that can lead to costly medical mistakes, including catastrophic personal injuries – even fatalities - is communication errors. Communication errors between hospital staff as well as the failure of doctors and nurses to ask patients the correct questions account for nearly 80% of all serious medical errors and mistakes.
Communication makes up a large part of the patient experience and includes a wide variety of things from whether a medical professional is able to establish a good relationship with the patient to make them comfortable discussing his or her symptoms and conditions, to communications with staff –what is the appropriate diagnosis, what is the appropriate course of treatment, what medications may be necessary, what treatment/medications/restrictions does the patient have?
A failure in any one of these areas may lead to a patient receiving the wrong treatment or no treatment and all.
When all members of the health care team are communicating well, the risk of medical errors diminishes and patient outcomes improve.
Further, while many point to the use of electronic records as one way to prevent errors from occurring, this is only part of the problem. Although electronic records can record health concerns, often purely human issues – such as the failure to follow-up, leading to a delayed or missed diagnosis – is at the root of the costly error.
Fortunately, recently the much attention has been paid to the sheer number of medical errors and the fact that nearly 400,000 people die each year due to preventable medical errors – making it the No. 3 killer in the United States. Hopefully, with continued awareness and pressure to improve communication at the hospitals these numbers will decrease and lives will be saved.
For more information or if you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a medical error, please contact the experienced Los Angeles medical malpractice attorneys at Bostwick & Peterson for an immediate consultation.