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Can miscommunication lead to surgical errors and medical mistakes?

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

As you go into the operating room for a surgical procedure, you place your wellbeing in the hands of the medical professionals taking care of you. Although these highly educated and experienced surgeons are qualified to operate, a simple error in communication may lead to a significant error.

According to General Surgery News, approximately 251,000 deaths in the United States each year involve medical errors, many due to miscommunication. Fatalities due to medical errors are difficult to calculate, however, as many go unreported.

Communication with patients

Talking with patients is a vital part of any medical encounter. Not only is it critical to verify information with the patient before taking them into the operating room, but listening to the patient is an integral factor in the healing process. Proper communication can reduce the risk of error by:

  • Performing the right procedure on the right patient
  • Ensuring the patient does not have any allergies to medication or anesthesia
  • Making sure the right body part is prepped for surgery
  • Ensuring the patient has not had any prior adverse reactions to former procedures

Taking the time to talk with the patient not only reduces the risk of error, it improves the patient’s trust and sense of wellbeing as they go into the operating room.

Communication between medical professionals

An interdisciplinary medical team made up of physicians, surgeons, nurses and pharmacists, all interact with one another on any given patient’s case. Communication among these medical professionals is critical to the overall outcome of the patient’s case. For example, the anesthesiologist must communicate with the surgeon and operating room technicians during a procedure.

When proper communication is conducted through the medical professionals and patients, it can minimize the risk of a medical error.


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