Communication breakdown – how do you fare?

Mar 14, 2017

The CRICO Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures Benchmarking Report highlights some familiar problems. It notes communication as a factor in 30% of cases. This can be communication between healthcare providers or between provider and patient. Poor documentation is cited as a common form of miscommunication between providers, due to inaccurate, insufficient, delayed or illegible recording of clinical findings.

The most common breakdown (26% of cases) between healthcare providers related to miscommunication regarding the patient’s condition. Poor documentation (12%) and failure to read the medical record (7%) were also noted as more frequent issues between providers.

Communication failures were reported across areas of healthcare, though general practice and obstetrics had higher proportions of malpractice cases involving communication failures.

‘Information is the currency of safe care, and communication is the vehicle by which that currency moves’*

Last December, I visited CRICO Strategies in Boston, a group of companies owned by and serving the Harvard medical community, with an established reputation as a leader in evidence-based risk and claims management.

When things go wrong in healthcare, many questions are usually asked. Underpinning the safety and quality of the healthcare system are healthcare professionals motivated to learn from near misses and errors in order to prevent others. Equally important is a culture of continuous improvement and a vigilance to pick up risks and errors before they happen.

Examining and learning from events that lead to patient harm is the cornerstone of risk management systems. As some of these events eventuate into legal claims, medico-legal claims data provides an important source of information and learnings to improve risk.

Our experience is not indifferent to other insurers around the world such as CRICO, and their reports provide excellent insights into improving quality and safety in healthcare.

Avant is currently examining its own claims data to produce reports and publications in the future, similar to those published by CRICO. We anticipate that these unique insights into the medico-legal issues that lead to claims will assist you, our members, to continue to improve patient safety and reduce risk.

* CRICO Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures Benchmarking Report 2015.

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