- Poor communications cost the U.S. healthcare system $1.7 billion in malpractice costs and nearly 2,000 lives, a new report by CRICO Strategies found.
- In all, communication breakdowns figured in 30% of malpractice claims filed from 2009 to 2013.
- Common reasons for communication lapses were misinformation about a patient’s condition, ignoring a patient’s complaint, and not getting adequate informed consent, FierceHealthcare reported.
Analysts at CRICO looked at 23,658 malpractice cases, involving 1,744 deaths, over the five-year period. An even greater proportion of high-severity injury cases — 37% — were tied to communication failures.
The report also found EMRs, meant to improve communication, can sometimes make it worse, according to Stat News. In one case, a woman’s lab results were captured in her EMR but not forwarded to her doctor, delaying her cancer diagnosis by a year.
The problem of misdiagnoses, wrong surgeries and other communication-related mishaps is likely much larger than the study found, since many patient injuries and deaths never result in malpractice claims.
Poor healthcare communication has been a hot-button issue since Boston Globe reporter Betsy Lehman died of chemotherapy overdose in 1994.