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Miscommunication often a red-flag problem in med mal cases

A recent study (with results similarly echoed by additional efforts) estimates that more than 250,000 patients die from care professionals’ lapses in judgment and other negligent acts each year in the United States.

That is unquestionably shocking, especially for the dire conclusion that medical mistakes rank behind only heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the U.S.

The causes of medical malpractice are myriad and varied. They range from medication mistakes (e.g., wrong drug, wrong dose) and misdiagnosis (delayed, not detected or incorrect) to botched surgeries and anesthesiology glitches. Birth injuries are sadly common and often yield especially heart-breaking outcomes. Ironically, high numbers of patients contract facility-acquired infections, which they might reasonably think would be well contained in a hospital environment.

And then there is communication.

Or, more specially, lack thereof. A recent national article underscoring the material problem of medical malpractice and its key causes points tellingly to unsatisfactory or otherwise failed communications as being closely linked with bad medical outcomes. The U.S. News & World Report states that many problems “begin as a simple miscommunication between members of the care team.”

Why is the seemingly easy task of effectively communicating among health professionals so often failed at in the context of patient care?

A recent U.S. News piece stresses that a distinct “hierarchical structure” in medicine marked by doctors having near unchecked autonomy likely contributes significantly to errors and resulting patient harm.

Translated, that means that nurses and other care providers are often hesitant to speak up and that MD’s sometimes don’t listen even when they do. Select doctors can bully and be impatient. So too can be some supervising nurses.

Another cited source of danger and disconnect centers on so-called “patient handoffs,” a critical juncture where providers share relevant data during shift changes. Much that is important is reportedly not being routinely conveyed among doctors, nurses and other key staff members.

Every patient in Kentucky or elsewhere has a reasonable expectation that he or she will receive competent care at all times. An experienced medical malpractice team of pro-patient attorneys can provide diligent legal representation seeking a maximum recovery when personal injury results from medical negligence.

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