5 things to know about communication errors, patient safety in general medicine

Primary care physicians and general medicine practitioners are frequently expected to be "in the loop" regarding all the care their patients are receiving. This is not easy to achieve, and when these physicians fall short, patients can suffer, according to the "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. Of the cases analyzed, 951 cases involved general medicine.

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

1. Nearly half (45 percent) of general medicine cases reflect a diagnostic error — most commonly, missed cancers.

2. Roughly two-thirds (68 percent) of the cases occurred in an ambulatory setting.

3. Sixty percent resulted in a high-severity injury and 37 percent resulted in a patient death.

4. The factors most often cited in general medicine malpractice cases include communication failures among providers regarding a patient's condition (26 percent), poor documentation of clinical findings (14 percent) and inadequate education on the risks of medications (10 percent).

5. Sixty percent of the communication failures identified in general medicine cases occurred between providers and 54 percent occurred between providers and patients, meaning 14 percent involved both provider-provider and provider-patient communication errors.



More articles on patient safety:
NPSF launches United for Patient Safety campaign
Hospital Association of Southern California to host patient safety workshops
iHeart radio host produces patient safety advocacy radio program

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