When people are seen by a physician, go to the pharmacy, are admitted to the hospital, enter the operating room for a procedure or are diagnosed with a condition, they rely on a host of medical professionals to take care of them. Peoples’ medical care includes a multidisciplinary team of experts, including medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, surgeons, therapists and specialists. All of these professionals must communicate with one another regarding patient health care in order to properly treat the patient. A lapse in communication or failure to relay crucial information may lead to a serious medical error, injury or even death.
According to a study published by UC San Francisco, better communication among health care workers could lower the number of medical mistakes by up to 30 percent. Whenever a patient is moved to another provider or transferred to another facility, miscommunication can occur. A breakdown in communication can occur when doctors and/or nurses fail to make comprehensive notes in patients’ charts or provide incomplete information.
What is being done to prevent this type of medical negligence? The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare combined with 10 healthcare systems and hospitals to reduce the amount errors that occur. They found that approximately 80 percent of medical mistakes are caused by health care miscommunication. These institutions have created a standard way to communicate when handing patients off to another care provider. This includes using standardized forms, educating professionals and implementing checklists into procedures where patients are transferred from one physician or facility to another.