Improved communication with patients leads to fewer lawsuits

A study recently published by Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University researchers in the British Medical Journal highlights how medical errors can be reduced as much as 38 percent. The research shows that doctors and their patients need only to improve their communication to effectuate this change.

The protocol that produced such promising results is referred to as Patient and Family Centered I-PASS. Doctors used this intervention in interacting with their patients while making their morning rounds. It included the use of health literacy, structured communication and increased engagement of family members in discussions.

Most of the interactions that took place did so at the patient's bedside when other family members were also present and actively engaged in the conversation. When interacting with a patient's family, doctors made a conscious effort to minimize their use of medical jargon, asked them questions to make sure that they understood what they'd been told. They also gave family members and patients time to express their concerns about what was being said.

The researchers found that this approach wasn't only effective in helping minimize perceived hospital or doctor errors from the family's perspective, but also helped nursing staff feel more engaged in making their rounds.

One of the lead researchers points out that prior data already showed how improved cross-communication between medical providers has a positive impact on patient safety. He notes that this latest research proves that enhanced communication with families also has a significant positive impact on improving patient safety and care.

This study's researchers aren't the first to suggest that there's a correlation between communication and doctor errors. Audits of medical malpractice cases have revealed that many of lawsuits are filed because of a doctor's ineffective communication with other medical team members and patients. A Tucson attorney with experience handling medical malpractice cases can advise you of your options when poor communication from a doctor negatively affects your health.

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