04 Aug Closing the Gap on Medical Errors & Communications Failures
A recent report, “Communication Failures Linked to 1,744 Deaths in 5 Years,” documents that communication failures totaled $1.7 billion in malpractice costs, and were a factor in 30 percent of malpractice cases. And this is likely just the tip of the miscommunication iceberg since that report only looked at malpractice cases. The Joint Commission estimates that miscommunication among medical staff while transferring patients contributed to 80 percent of serious medical errors. How do we move the needle in medical errors and miscommunication to better serve patients and help save lives?
“Up to 50 percent of preventable medical errors are related to a breakdown in communication,” says Dr. William Maples, executive director of the Institute for Healthcare Excellence. “The key to decreasing preventable medical errors is to build a culture of safety which is rooted in effective, authentic, and compassionate communication. As the complexity of medicine increases, there is a greater need for teams to work effectively together with the patient at the center of the team to maximize outcomes and safety. This requires a culture of trust where every member of the team feels safe to share what he/she is observing as the team navigates through a care pathway. At the root of building this trust is effective, open, honest, and authentic communication between all members of the team.”
Most healthcare providers do not receive any formal or focused training in communications, yet by learning a few basic skills such as mindfulness and being present, physicians can not only improve outcomes but can also significantly improve the patient experience.
Dr. Maples and the team at The Institute have seen the results improved communications training can have.
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