Harmful medical errors fall 38% with improved provider-family communication, study finds

 An intervention designed to standardize communication between clinicians and families during patient rounds led to a 38 percent reduction in harmful medical errors, according to a study published in the BMJ.

Staff members at Boston Children's Hospital created the intervention, called I-PASS, which dozens of hospitals have adopted nationwide, according to STAT.

The intervention outlines a standardized approach to conducting patient rounds that entails standing by a patient's bedside and asking the patient and family if they have any questions or concerns. Clinicians then share any medical updates and outline the patient's treatment plan using plain language. At the end of the interaction, families are asked to repeat the care plan to clinicians.

"We often assume understanding without confirming it," lead study author Alisa Khan, MD, a Boston Children's pediatrician and professor at Boston-based Harvard Medical School, told STAT.

Under the guidance of Dr. Khan and her team, seven hospitals in North America implemented the I-PASS intervention on pediatric inpatient units between Dec. 17, 2014, and Jan. 3, 2017.

The overall rate of medical errors did not change after implementing the intervention. However, preventable adverse events fell 37.9 percent three months post-intervention.

"Although overall errors were unchanged, harmful medical errors decreased and family experience and communication processes improved after implementation of a structured communication intervention for family centered rounds coproduced by families, nurses, and physicians," the researchers concluded. "Family-centered care processes may improve safety and quality of care without negatively impacting teaching or duration of rounds."

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