Poor communication between health care professionals may result in patient injuries or fatalities. As reported by the HIPAA Journal, miscommunication most often occurs when staff members change shifts.
When caregivers sign off at the end of their shifts, the responsibility of patients’ care transfers to another staff member. A joint commission’s research discovered 80% of communication errors occurred during patient handoffs.
Incomplete medical records and lack of updates
Errors may occur in the absence of complete and updated medical records. Seriously ill individuals may receive the wrong medication. In some cases, a practitioner may perform an unsuitable procedure.
Information concerning each patient’s condition requires the latest details. Poorly maintained documents may cause a practitioner to review incomplete reports. Neglecting to record changes in symptoms, for example, may cause a caregiver to provide harmful treatment.
Some reasons for miscommunication between staff members
Sloppy documentation most likely falls outside of any organization’s acceptable policies. Hospital managers may, however, fail to properly train staff on record-keeping duties. Management may also lack effective procedures for holding staff accountable for poor work habits. Stress and burnout might also contribute to record-keeping omissions during shift changes.
As noted by U.S. News and World Report, poorly communicating test results leads to errors in diagnoses. Health care practitioners reportedly overlook up to 62% of patients’ lab results. As much as 36% of imaging results may fail to receive a thorough review. Physicians may not possess full details of a patient’s condition before recommending treatment.
Medical practitioners owe a duty of care to maintain accurate and updated records. Errors that lead to severe injuries or death may require a malpractice action. A jury may award harmed patients or grieving families compensation for their suffering or loss.