Patients Concerned with Medical Care Miscommunication

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A nonprofit group focused on making medical care safer annually grades hospitals based on input from the facilities and government agencies.  Recently it let patients have their say regarding healthcare safety.

The Leapfrog Group twice a year publishes safety report cards for hospitals across the country.  It offers an overall letter grade – “A” being the best and “F” a failing grade – for each facility based on scores issued for a wide variety of factors linked to preventable medical errors, including:

·         Hospital-acquired infections

·         Surgical mistakes

·         Communication about medications and hospital discharge

·         Patient falls

Patient Safety Grades for St. Louis Hospitals

The latest round of report cards, issued in April, featured 25 St. Louis-area hospitals.  The safety grades for the St. Louis hospitals varied as follows:

·         8 received an “A”

·         6 received a “B”

·         9 received a “C”

·         1 received a “D”

·         1 received an “F”

These safety grades are calculated using self-reported data from U.S. hospitals as well as patient safety data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other sources.

In July, Leapfrog released its “Patient Experience Report.”  This is a measure of patient safety and satisfaction based on patient responses to surveys conducted by healthcare facilities across the nation.  Two types of healthcare treatment facilities included in the report were:

·         General care hospitals treating adults

·         Pediatric hospitals

The responses largely reflected one common concern: miscommunication or unclear communication with healthcare providers.

Overall, adult patients receiving treatment in hospitals expressed satisfaction with their doctor communications.  The Leapfrog report noted, however, that nearly half of the patients said they were unclear about the care plans that would govern after they left the hospital.

Patients’ concerns over these unclear communications included post-discharge medications and possible symptoms to monitor.

Parents’ Concerns Over Reporting Medical Errors

The pediatric hospital surveys were built upon responses from the patients’ parents. Nearly 40% of the respondents felt uncomfortable during hospital stays reporting their concerns of possible medical errors.

The report notes a parent constantly by their child’s bedside often may be in a better position to notice something wrong than an in-and-out healthcare provider. Potential errors during medication administration were one example specifically highlighted.

Medical Errors and Patient Harm Linked to Miscommunication During Treatment

Miscommunication was identified as a cause of serious medical errors in a 2015 study titled “Malpractice Risks in Communications.”  The study was conducted by CRICO, a medical malpractice insurance provider. Researchers reviewed medical malpractice lawsuits filed between 2009 and 2013.

CRICO found that 30% of the lawsuits included allegations of communication mistakes, including both miscommunication among providers and between providers and patients. Most alarming, the study reported 37% of the “high-severity” injury medical malpractice cases, which included patient deaths, involved a communication failure during medical care.

Leading examples of communication errors among healthcare providers were:

·         Miscommunication regarding the patient’s condition

·         Poor documentation

·         Failure to read the patient’s medical record

And potentially serious miscommunications between healthcare providers and patients included:

·         Inadequate informed patient consent

·         Unsympathetic response to patient complaint

·         Inadequate education regarding medications

If were seriously injured or lost a loved one during medical treatment and you suspect an error in care was made, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog August 4, 2021


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