Jacksonville Medical Malpractice: Communicate Like Your Life Depends on It


Patient Communication

Consider that in any given hospital on any given day there can be 2,500 laboratory tests and imaging studies done on hundreds of patients. Complicating the matter is the fact that some patients have multiple problems and procedures underway at the same time.

A failure to communicate has been cited as the direct cause of 70% of hospital injuries with 75% of those injuries leading to patient death, according to one study.

So proper and complete communication can truly be a matter of life and death. Accrediting organizations, such as the Joint Commission, offer guidelines on good communication in the hospital setting.

As a consumer, it’s important to understand the information exchange between doctors, nurses, and you, the patient, to guarantee the best outcome and avoid medical errors.

Doctor-Nurse Dynamics

Hospitals govern how doctors and nurses communicate with each other. The dynamics of the relationship affect the communication and increasingly doctors are being forced into a more cooperative relationship with nurses. In the past, a doctor might intimidate anyone around him from speaking up. But that attitude has led to unnecessary medical errors. Now many institutions insist that a doctor who is abusive and intimidating the nurse from speaking up, be considered “disruptive” to excellent patient care. You will want to ask what is the appropriate conduct standard between professionals at your hospital.

Electronic Medical Records in Florida

Electronic record keeping has had a huge impact on patient care. For example, there may be software that does not allow medication to be given to a patient with an allergy to that medication, therefore preventing a medical error. Electronic medical records (EMR) are being phased into institutions. Patients will want to take an active role in making sure the records reflect their understanding as well.

Verbal Orders

Watch for the exchange of verbal and telephone orders. When a doctor gives a verbal order the person on the receiving end should repeat the order to make sure it has been heard correctly. The doctor can then correct or okay the order. This is known as the “repeated and verified” process. Find out whether that exists in your hospital. The facilities should also have a list of “do not use” abbreviations – drug names, for example, that have a similar sound to other drug names can lead to misinterpretation.

Patient Hand-Off

Mistakes in communication can commonly be made when a patient must be handed off or transferred and a change of personnel takes place, such as during a shift change. If medical personnel do not give correct medication orders, fail to communicate the need to follow up on tests, or fail to schedule further diagnostic testing, a medical error can result.

When critical test results are received by a professional, that person is expected to verify they received the results to ensure a continuity of care. This can even be done electronically through a personal digital assistant.

When a patient is actively involved in their own care, they should understand the communication corridors between doctors and nurses to make sure they are an active participant. Everyone involved with that patient has the same goal-a good medical outcome with the minimum of medical errors. If you have been the victim of a medical error in Jacksonville, please contact a dedicated Jacksonville medical malpractice lawyer at Farah & Farah, 877-245-6707.

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