Communication is key when dealing with physicians, specialists, surgeons, nurses and other medical personnel. A number of patients in New York and across the country have several people looking over their medical care, and rely on communication between these professionals to keep them healthy and safe. When communication does not take place, it leaves room for a multitude of medical errors, including overprescribing of medications, misdiagnosis, surgical errors and other adverse events.
A study conducted by a company that insures Harvard-affiliated hospitals found that just under 2,000 people died as a result of medical miscommunication over a five-year period in the U.S. In one incident, the medical staff at a hospital took calls from a diabetic patient who was experiencing troubles, but failed to let the patient’s primary care physician know or respond to the patient. The patient soon died of diabetic ketoacidosis because she never received a call back. Another incident involved a woman who was supposed to have her tubes tied after giving birth. The procedure was not completed; however, the patient was not told and thought she was unable to conceive. When she found out she was pregnant, she filed a claim against the hospital for medical negligence.
Miscommunication can also occur when a doctor does not use medical technology correctly. If a physician does not send an electronic health care lab request or fails to share lab results with a patient’s doctor, critical information can get lost, and patients die as a result. Heavy patient workload means doctors may not spend enough time with patients, or hurry through a task, which could lead to a medical error as well.