Communication is essential for promoting patient safety. When hospital staff members communicate with patients, each other and the public, it becomes more difficult to cause medical errors. These three examples can show how communication prevents common medical mistakes.
Handoff errors: While receiving treatment at hospitals, patients are likely to fall under the care of multiple nurses, doctors and other staff throughout their stay. Handoffs are when patient care is transferred to other health care professionals, usually at the end of shifts. During handoffs, communication is essential to avoid medical errors. Many hospitals have created handoff procedures to avoid errors, all of which verify information about patients.
Patient medical history errors: Hospital staff, patients and family members should communicate with each other to avoid errors. Staff members must be made aware of critical information, such as potential drug allergies. Patients should never make the assumption that health care practitioners have all of the information they need. Prior studies carried out by the Institute of Medicine show poor doctor-patient communication to be a major cause of medical errors.
Avoiding repeat errors: We have discussed hospital transparency and patient safety in prior blogs. Communicating with the public and other hospitals is an effective way to avoid repeat medical errors. Once a medical error has been reported at a hospital, other institutions should become aware of the circumstances to avoid repeat mistakes.
Verifying information and checking for errors is an essential part of most jobs. For doctors, nurses and other health care workers, being meticulous can save the lives of patients. By communicating, it becomes easier for hospital staff to check for errors and verify information about patients.