Communication can help reduce medical malpractice

Friday September 27, 2013

Staying healthy is one of the goals of many people here in New Haven, Connecticut. With the medical technology available, many local residents spend a significant amount of money to recover from illnesses. However, while patients entrust their well-being to medical professionals, some patients fall victim to medical errors and malpractice. Sometimes incidents happen simply because of miscommunication.

In 2005, a report called, “Silence Kills” presented staggering data on 1,700 medical professionals. More than half witnessed their co-workers disobey rules, commit errors, show incompetence, fail to support others, demonstrate poor teamwork, act in a disrespectful manner or micromanage. Of this number, just under 85 % percent of the doctors observed co-workers who took risky shortcuts when caring for patients and nearly 90% worked with colleagues who demonstrated poor clinical judgment. Of these numbers, less than 10 percent of the medical professionals communicated their malpractice concerns to their colleagues.

In 2010, a follow-up study called, “The Silent Treatment” concluded that although technology played a great role in improving patient care, communicating medical malpractice concerns within the hospital is still a significant issue. One of the primary reasons for some clinical staff not communicating wrong patient care issues is fear of challenging a colleague or a superior and retaliation.

One promising way to resolve this issue is to integrate the use of technology to open the communication gap among medical professionals to maintain quality health care. By designing an intervention through technology, medical professionals, such as nurses can avoid retaliation among their superiors, which will help not only the patients, but the doctor and the hospital. Essentially, it will be technology, not the individual pointing out the error.

In the United States, almost 200,000 people die annually because of preventable medical errors. Other than death, doctor error can lead to serious injuries, which can have a long-lasting impact, like disability. Fortunately, victims of medical malpractice can claim compensation and it may be advisable for the victim to consult a legal professional to ensure that they receive all the compensation to which they are entitled.

Source: Forbes, “Silence Kills: Can Technology Drive Meaningful Cultural Change in Healthcare?,” Robert J. Szczerba, Sep. 17, 2013

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