What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate

Preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. We’re talking about 250,000 lives lost, trailing only heart disease and cancer. If you think these errors are confined to hospitalized patients, you’d be wrong. About half of them are the result of mistakes in the outpatient setting (read: doctors’ offices).

By medical errors, I’m talking about misdiagnoses, medication errors, wrong site surgery and poor hygiene resulting in fatal infections. A report by the Institute of Medicine attributed the astronomical number of medical mishaps directly to miscommunication or a failure to communicate; doctors sometimes fail to communicate with colleagues as well as patients. and this failure to communicate is the root cause of medical mistakes.

One way to avoid miscommunication would be to replace commonly used medical jargon, most of which many patients cannot understand, with plain language. For the rest of this article, please go to CultureMap.


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