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How can communication in healthcare be improved?

One of the driving forces behind medical errors in New York is communications issues. Many situations where a patient suffers due to someone's negligence can be traced back to miscommunication. There are many reasons why such issues occur, and for years, the medical profession has been trying to fix them. Some solutions have introduced new issues, but there are others that have been working well. The ultimate goal is to find what works and implement it in every healthcare setting.

According to STAT, miscommunication may occur between the medical staff treating you or between you and a medical provider, which then leads to some type of medical error. Bad communication may be a result of interruption errors, rushing or bad record-keeping, among other things. Something as simple as writing a number wrong could lead to you being seriously injured or even killed. One of the most dangerous situations is if you are being transferred from the care of one medical provider to another or one facility to another because communicating all the important details can easily get messed up.

Electronic medical records were introduced in hopes they would help reduce errors in communication, but this has not worked out as planned. You may have your information accurately entered into a computerized system, but if that information is not transferred to the correct person, then it does not help.

The most promising solution to this issue is a system called I-PASS. I-PASS stands for: illness severity, patient summary, action list, situation awareness and contingency planning, and synthesis by receiver. Basically, during the process of transferring you to another person's care, your medical provider will ensure he or she communicates the severity of your illness, gives an overview of your situation and alerts staff to what has been explained to you and what the treatment plan is moving forward. Then, the listener will repeat back what he or she has been told to verify he or she got all the information and understood it correctly. This system is being used is various hospitals with great results. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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