New study finds increased communication can reduce risk of medical error

A new technique was found to greatly reduce the risk of injury to patients during patient handoff.

Anyone that needs to go to the hospital for treatment of an injury or disease places a large amount of trust with the medical professionals assigned to their care. These professionals train to provide care that is aimed at healing, not harming, the patient. Unfortunately, mistakes can happen. This is particularly true when patients require care from multiple physicians. A recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine addressed this issue, noting that mistakes can arise during patient handoff. The publication reviews the problem and outlines a new technique that could greatly reduce the risk of medical errors in these instances.

The technique is referred to as I-PASS. The acronym, standing for illness severity, patient summary, action list, situation awareness and contingency plan, is designed to increase the communication that occurs during patient handoff. This system focuses on both oral and written communication during handoff as well as providing training tools to the medical professionals involved in this process.

More on the study

The article, Changes in Medical Errors after Implementation of a Handoff Program, discussed a multicenter study conducted in nine hospitals. Researchers with the study reviewed over 10,000 patient admissions and found that use of I-PASS reduced the rate of medical error by 23 percent. Researchers also noted a drop in preventable adverse events by 30 percent.

Interestingly, the study also found that in addition to reducing the risk of medical errors to patients, the system did not negatively impact the hospital's workflow.

Remedies available for victims of medical errors

Physicians are required to act in a manner that is consistent with the expectation of the medical community. A failure to meet this expectation is a failure to meet the expected standard of care. If this standard is violated, a lawsuit likely exists. This could be present if proper handoff procedures are not followed, leading to a miscommunication about patient care that could result in an injury to the patient. Although techniques like I-PASS can reduce the risk of injury, mistakes can still happen. If the mistake is connected to a negligent or reckless act by a medical provider, compensation is likely available for the victim through a medical malpractice claim. This claim can lead to monetary awards that can help cover the cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation bills and lost wages.

Those who believe that they are the victims of medical malpractice should contact a medical malpractice lawyer. Medical malpractice claims are complex. An attorney can guide you through the process and better ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Keywords: medical malpractice