The role of communication errors in medicine 

In the medical world, a simple communication error can be deadly. In a typical office setting, it may just cost time or it may cost the company money. In a hospital, it can cost the patient his or her very life.

Experts understand that this issue exists, to the point that some have called these errors “one of the most prevalent problems” that medical professionals face. They can crop up at all stages. A surgeon could forget to double-check to make sure he or she has the right patient. A nurse could be told to give a patient the wrong medication. Medical records may not get exchanged properly. Last-minute changes may only be known by part of a medical team. There are thousands of examples. 

The reasons that these errors happen are many. For one thing, a hospital tends to be a fast-paced environment. For instance, an error in an emergency room setting may happen just because it is chaotic and everyone involved is rushing as fast as they can to save lives. 

Even in slower settings, though, errors abound. For instance, a resident may realize that he or she needs help or doesn’t understand how to do something. However, the resident may also know that they are supposed to know what to do, and they may delay asking a doctor — or refuse to do so entirely — for fear of being reprimanded. This is a dangerous stance to take when a patient could be seriously harmed by a mistake.

No matter how communication errors take place, they’re very problematic and can violate a patient’s right to proficient care. Those who are injured or who lose loved ones must know what legal steps they can take.