I recently came across an article written by The Doctors Company that reviewed 238 malpractice claims between 2015-2018 in an effort to find ways to reduce claims and improve care. While the doctors company found three drivers for malpractice claims (delayed diagnosis, Improper management of treatment, and Improper medication management), I noticed two major themes. First, good and clear communication is crucial to patient safety, but information sharing can be difficult in the environment we currently work in. Second, the processes and systems put in place that are meant to enable efficiency and effectiveness often detract from it. Which led me to think – it should be easy for clinicians to do the right thing, why isn’t it?
Recent Research has shown that an alarming number of medical errors are based on communication gaps, either while taking patient history or during handoffs between care providers. In 2015, a benchmarking study conducted by CRICO (The Controlled Risk Insurance Company , providing coverage to Harvard affiliated medical organizations and their physicians) found that communication errors were responsible for over 1,700 deaths as well as additional costs of $ 1.7 billion, to the healthcare system.
When looking at studies similar to those above, it is easy to assume the provider has made an error or lapse in judgement. This of course does happen at times…providers are human and also make mistakes.In my experience, clinicians are driven to provide patients with the highest possible quality of care. However, despite every effort on their part to do the right thing, providers are all too often not set up for success. Everyday, we are faced with a scarcity of time and poorly designed systems that instead of removing, end up creating hurdles making it much too difficult to “do the right thing”.
In the next two parts of this blog series, I’ll examine some of the hurdles clinicians face and how health systems can work to remove barriers to better patient care.