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How communication failures can inspire medical malpractice

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Effective communication is not just an important element of patient care, it serves as a safety net that guards against the risk of medical errors and malpractice. Yet, despite advances in medical technology and protocols, communication failures remain a significant and concerning source of patient harm. 

Understanding the intersection between communication breakdowns and medical malpractice can help patients affected by professional failures to better understand why their harm occurred and, quite possibly, whether they’re in a particularly strong position to hold their negligent providers accountable for that harm. 

The impact of communication failures

Communication failures in healthcare settings can manifest in various forms, ranging from misinterpretations of medical records and laboratory results to inadequate handovers during shift changes and the miscommunication of patient history and symptoms. Such breakdowns can lead to incorrect diagnoses, delayed treatments and inappropriate medical interventions—all of which can have devastating consequences for patients.

One of the most consequential areas where communication impacts patient care is in the handoff between medical professionals. Miscommunication during these transitions can lead to a loss of crucial patient information, resulting in errors in medication administration, post-operative care and the monitoring of conditions. Similarly, inadequate communication with patients about their diagnoses, treatment options and care plans can leave individuals confused, less likely to comply with medical advice, and more vulnerable to adverse outcomes.

Under numerous circumstances, communication failures can significantly bolster claims of medical malpractice. When healthcare providers fail to communicate effectively among themselves or with their patients, this breaches the standard of care expected within the medical community. For affected patients and their families, this breach can potentially form – or otherwise inform – the basis of a malpractice lawsuit when the breach itself results in harm.