5 thing to know about communication errors, nurses and patient safety

Approximately one-third of malpractice cases involving nursing cite a breakdown in communication, according to the recently published "Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures: 2015 Annual Benchmarking Report".

The report was published by CRICO Strategies, a division of the Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions. This year, CRICO Strategies published its comparative benchmarking report on how specific weaknesses in communication impact patient safety.

For the 2015 report, CRICO analyzed more than 23,000 medical malpractice claims and lawsuits filed between 2009 and 2013 in which a patient experienced some degree of harm. Nurses were named in 647 of the cases analyzed.

Below are five findings from the report related to communication failures and nurses.

1. Among nursing cases, 24 percent reflected a patient monitoring error.

2. Three-quarters of communication failures in nursing cases occurred in an inpatient setting.

3. Nearly half (45 percent) of the cases resulted in a high-severity injury and one-third (33 percent) resulted in a patient death.

4. The factors most often cited in nursing malpractice cases were communication failures among providers regarding a patient's condition (38 percent), poor documentation of clinical findings (21 percent) and unsympathetic responses to patient complaints (8 percent).

5. Seventy-two percent of the communication failures identified in nursing cases occurred between providers and 35 percent occurred between providers and patients, meaning 7 percent involved both provider-provider and provider-patient communication errors.

"A failure to close the loop, to debrief on a patient or to read the nurses' notes can mean that critical information is not communicated where its needed," according to the report. "All too frequently, those gaps trigger — or fail to prevent — patient harm."



More articles on patient safety:
ACHE, NPSF collaborate to create patient safety playbook
Dr. Peter Pronovost: 9 necessary patient safety growth areas
Trinity Mother Frances to use Epic EHR in patient harm reduction initiative

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