New Study: Communication Can Make Or Break Patient Care

On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

A recent study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that a hospital's management and organizational culture are what distinguish a great medical facility from a terrible one. Specifically, the study found that a supportive and cohesive organization can have a direct and measurable impact on patient outcomes.

This notion is contrary to the common belief that higher quality surgeons or more expensive medical equipment will prevent medical injuries or save more patients. However, those factors take a back seat to basic communication and coordination skills.

A hospital's approach to resolving patient care issues is the key. The study gives the hypothetical example of a heart attack patient discharged without proper medication who has returned to the hospital with issues caused by the error. The study found that at a hospital that does not prioritize communication, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and even administrators might point fingers at each other and avoid tackling the problem. This could easily result in medical malpractice.

Conversely, the staff at a hospital which does prioritize communication would admit a mistake and work together to resolve the problem without pointing fingers. The best hospitals use the mistake to make the system better for the future.

Failing to Work Together Endangers Patients

No one would disagree that high-quality patient care should be the primary focus of every level of hospital staff and administration. If the difference between the best and worst hospitals is the organizational culture, then any medical professional's inability to work well with their team jeopardizes patient safety. Physicians and nurses should be held accountable when their behavior puts a patient at risk.

Egos must be checked at the hospital door and staff on all levels must work together as a team to address problems and move the whole organization forward. Failing to do so is not just bad business; it could be unethical and dangerous.