According to a report published by CRICO Strategies, communication issues contributed to nearly 30 percent of the 23,000 malpractice claims filed between 2009 and 2013 that the company studied. This translates to 7,149 cases that resulted in 1,744 deaths and $1.7 billion in hospital costs. However, it is believed that these numbers aren’t totally accurate as cases involving patients harmed by communication errors may not have led to malpractice claims.
There were several different types of communication errors including failure to provide adequate informed consent or not being sympathetic to a patient. Poor documentation and miscommunication about a patient’s condition also led to malpractice claims. While advocates have been pushing for better communication for many years, the CRICO report shows that little progress has been made in this area. Examples cited in the report include a man who died after a nurse failed to alert a surgeon to his internal bleeding during a surgical procedure.
Another man died after medical staff failed to relay messages from the man to his primary care physician. It is believed that there are several factors contributing to this lack of communication. For instance, a lack of defined roles and a large workload may be making it harder for hospital staff to stay on the same page. Issues within workplace hierarchies may also play a role when it comes to poor communication among medical professionals.
When a medical professional takes action that equates to medical negligence, the condition of the affected patient can often worsen, resulting in additional and expensive medical bills and other losses. A medical malpractice attorney can often be of assistance in seeking compensation on behalf of such a patient.