Welcome to my blog; Doctor Talk, Sense or Nonsense. This blog is dedicated to the tens of thousands of people who are needlessly injured or die each year due to medical miscommunication. My goal is to capture their stories. Stories that we can use as learning tools to prevent more troubling accidents. Accidents? Yes, accidents, because they are preventable.
You’ve probably seen the recent headlines declaring that Medical Errors are the 3rd Leading Cause of Death in the US. Medical miscommunication, the subject of this blog, is a pivotal factor in many of those deaths. Here’s the setting. Health information was provided to a patient or caregiver. The message was misunderstood. The patient or caregiver proceeds to act upon the information which then leads to injury or death. As you will discover in this blog, misunderstanding is preventable.
Medical miscommunication is commonplace. Besides the injuries and deaths previously mentioned, it wastes $100-200 billion per year in the U.S. (equivalent to the annual budget for the state of California). We need to be thankful that not all miscommunication leads to serious consequences. If it did, we would be continually experiencing a disaster of indescribable proportion.
Miscommunication can occur by way of the spoken word, written documents, or from videos or audio presentations. It can even occur due to inappropriate body language or from an “attitude” on the part of the healthcare provider. And miscommunication can arise from governments, insurance companies, state health departments as well as other venues. But this blog, as the title suggests, will focus on doctor-patient communication.
Not included in the discussion within this blog are medical malpractice cases or other healthcare associated injuries or deaths that got attention by the news media. This blog is focused on those who suffered consequences of medical miscommunication and were never able to reveal their story to the public. Stories that once exposed, could save lives and prevent suffering.
I’m passionate about this topic because I’m familiar with many of the reasons these injuries and deaths occur and the methods required to prevent them. And I know this type of information gets very little exposure. I can help prevent injuries or deaths by leading a dialogue about scenarios that put patients at risk, revealing what experts say about prevention, and providing a forum for all of us to learn from others’ experiences.
We’re all vulnerable to the misfortunes of medical miscommunication. We can learn from one another. I would like to hear from you if you have a story of medical miscommunication that led to unfortunate consequences. Also, because this is a learning environment, we need to hear about instances of medical communication where there was superb information exchange that led to outstanding outcomes. We can use all stories as learning tools. We need to hear about what did and didn’t work.
In my next blog post, I’ll prove to you that most of the doctors you see did not pass Communications 101. Their communication skills would not get them a passing grade in my imaginary Communication’s class. And I’ll show you how you can immediately improve the communication that occurs between you and your doctor thereby increasing your chances of making the right medical decisions. Here’s a teaser. What communication tool used by airline pilots is identical to a tool that should be used by all healthcare providers?