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Reviewing problems with patient handoffs

Despite the reasons behind one being admitted to a hospital in Queens, most would likely say that while there, they feel relatively safe. Yet many of those that we at Futterman, Sirotkin, and Seinfeld, LLP have worked with have personally discovered that errors can happen even in a clinical setting. If you have ever had to stay in a hospital for an extended period of time, then you have likely noticed the constant changing of nurses and other providers that were assigned to care for you. It has been shown that it is during this transfer of care between providers that many hospital errors occur.

Research information shared by the AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings Archive lists communication failures during patient handoffs as being among the primary causes of adverse patient events. In fact, their data suggests that up to 70 percent of such errors may be the result of this particular issue. Among the problems caused by a miscommunication during the transfer of care may be:

  •          Inappropriate treatments or medications being given.
  •          Duplicate doses being administered.
  •          Lack of follow-up to troubling signs and symptoms.
  •          Patient deterioration due to delayed treatment.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality points to the length of provider shift times as being one of the contributing factors to patient handoff errors. Their research showed that the risk of such errors nearly doubles when nurses work for more than 12.5 consecutive hours. If you or a loved one has experienced an adverse event while in a hospital, how long the nurses and other support staff had been working prior to and at the time of the event may be the first place you want to look to determine the cause.

More information regarding issues with a hospital stay can be found here on our site. 

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