Whether considering athletics, military conflicts, family life, politics, relationships, or business, communication is at the core of what we do. Without good communication, we are doomed to fail. The faster the pace and greater the stakes, the more important communication becomes.
In the fast-paced and high-stakes healthcare industry, communication is essential to providing great patient care, employee engagement, and achieving profitability. Healthcare is one of the few industries where decisions regarding life or death are being made every day - multiple times over. Communication is critical in ensuring the proper decisions are made based on the information at hand.
Part of the challenge with communication in healthcare is not merely the time in which decisions need to be acted upon, and the potential impact of those decisions, but also the number of parties involved in the communication process. Consider that communication must take place between patients, families, physicians, nurses, radiology, pharmacy, lab, patient transport, case management, registration, EMS, and many others. If any of these communication channels breakdown, it can have the potential to result in serious or even fatal consequences.
Communication and patient safety
When considering patient safety and the role communication plays, it cannot be overstated how critical communication is. Many studies have shown that the lack of proper communication was the root cause of adverse patient outcomes, and that improved communication could have prevented many of these errors.
A CRICO Strategies study looked at over 23,000 medical malpractice lawsuits and identified over 7,000 cases that were a direct result of miscommunication. Furthermore, they found that communication failures were linked to 1,744 patient deaths in five years.
That is an average of nearly one patient death per day that can be directly attributed to a breakdown in communication.