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What are hospital communication errors and how can they harm you?

There are many quality hospitals in New York City and Queens. However, even doctors in the most reputable medical centers may make mistakes. If you were the victim of a hospital error, you may face serious and potentially life-threatening complications. The Institute of Medicine estimates that each year, between 210,000 and 440,000 people suffer from preventable, fatal accidents in medical facilities across the country.

Many of these errors are a result of miscommunication among medical staff, according to KQED News. Communication mistakes frequently occur during staff handoffs. Handoffs are a routine hospital procedure that occurs when shifts change, when you are transferred to a different part of the hospital or when you switch to a different medical facility. A handoff is a crucial period when it is all too easy for a doctor or nurse to fail to pass on vital information to the next professionals who take over your care.

For example, your nurse may have administered your heart medication, but did not make a note of it on the chart before she left at the end of her shift. The next nurse might check your chart and believe you are overdue for your medication, thus creating a serious risk for an overdose. In another scenario, an emergency room doctor might have noticed an abnormality during an MRI, but failed to pass the information on to a colleague. If the abnormality was life-threatening, you may miss out on timely treatment.

If hospitals improve their communication methods during handoffs, patients injuries may be reduced by 30 percent, suggested a study by UC San Francisco and other institutions. Unfortunately, there are currently no national standards to regulate patient handoff communication. The content here in this blog is meant only as general information, and should not be taken as legal advice.

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