Data from a study conducted by CRICO Strategies, a risk management entity and division of Harvard Medical Institutions, Inc., reveals a startling conclusion behind why medical errors are continuing to occur all across the country.
Surveyors analyzed about 24,000 documents that spanned over a 4 year period from 2009-2013. Out of this total number, 7,000 were attributed to communication obstructions. Many of these issues involved a lack of communication among physicians and nurses or other hospital staff.
In one instance, a patient underwent surgery and later died from internal bleeding. An investigation revealed that the attending nurse failed to communicate the patient’s drop in vital signs to the surgeon. In another instance, a patient called her physician to discuss health concerns regarding her diabetes. The message wasn’t passed on and she later died from diabetic ketoacidosis.
According to the study, 2,000 out of the total number of medical malpractice instances resulted in death.
The study points to a number of reasons behind the problem including heavy workload of hospital staff and healthcare culture. Electronic medical records were also cited as a viable reason. In one instance, a patient’s cancer went undiagnosed due to a lost lab result in the patient’s computer file.
Sadly, according to the Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that provides accreditation to healthcare entities across the U.S., the data provided by CRICO is likely underestimated since researchers only analyzed actual medical malpractice instances.