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Miscommunication has high costs in the health care industry

Miscommunication can take numerous forms in a New Mexico hospital, but some instances are more serious than others. In the worst situations, death is a possible outcome. As researchers have found, at least 1,700 individuals in the United States perished between 2009 and 2013 because of medical communication errors. Nearly one-third of medical malpractice cases filed during that period were connected to miscommunication, and hospitals dealt with approximately $1.7 billion in costs on those claims.

One of the biggest concerns with regard to the data collected is the potential that the malpractice cases represented just a tiny portion of the actual instances of harm done to patients through poor communication. This issue is not a new concern, and statistics suggest that minimal progress has occurred since a high-profile incident of a patient dying from an overdose of chemotherapy drugs in 1994. Some of the most common areas in which communication falls short include dealing with documentation, obtaining informed consent, addressing the condition of a patient, and responding to the concerns of patients or their advocates.

Medical errors can result from communication problems prior to surgery, but many hospitals have implemented protocols to ensure that the identity of a patient and the nature of the procedure are confirmed multiple times, which has reduced the occurrences of problems such as wrong-site surgeries. Some errors can result from issues such as inadequate training, understaffing, and inexperience. A communication failure can be as simple as a call that informs a patient that their procedure has been moved up when that party has already been prepped for surgery, or a communication error can be as serious as administering a medication in spite of clear indications of allergy dangers.

Not all communication errors are worthy of medical malpractice action, especially those that cause no harm to the patients involved. However, victims of errors that led to serious harm may want to discuss their options with an attorney.

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