According to a study by the Joint Commission, most medical malpractice or other errors occur when patients are transferred between doctors or neighboring hospitals. The Joint Commission, an independent, non-profit organization which oversees over 20,000 U.S. hospitals, found that patient transfers were the leading cause of medical malpractice errors in the country.
According to their study, nearly 80 percent of serious medical errors happened as a result of a miscommunication when a patient was transferred from one caregiver to another. Whether this is a transfer from the night shift staff to the day shift staff, or a transfer between facilities, important patient information is getting lost in the shuffle.
The Joint Commission found that a typical teaching hospital may conduct over 4,000 of these transfers or hand-offs every day, leading to thousands of potential errors and mistakes. The Joint Commission is now working with several hospitals to improve the way medical facilities around the country transfer patients between caregivers.
The hospitals and other facilities which participated in the study found that there was a problem with a patient transfer over 37% of the time. The study found that the most common reasons for these problems and errors boiled down to a lack of communication, time, respect, and failure to work as a team.
As a result of these errors, patients were required to stay in the hospital for longer than was necessary, treatment was delayed, and there were errors in the types and amounts of medication given. At the more serious end of the spectrum, these errors resulted in serious physical and psychological injuries, and in some case, even death.
In response to this study, the Joint Commission has developed a plan which goes by the acronym “SHARE.” The letters in this plan stand for: Standardize critical content, Hardwire within your system, Allow opportunity to ask questions, Reinforce quality and measurement, and Educate and coach.
Health care facilities which worked with the Joint Commission to implement these practices found that their numbers of patient errors during transfers dropped by an average of 52%. The hope is that all hospitals will soon be able to use these best practices to cut down on the number of people injured by medical mistakes each year.
If you have been the victim of a serious medical error that was the result of an ineffective patient handoff or another healthcare system breakdown you should speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
Attorney Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., is both a doctor and a lawyer. He and his team of dedicated legal and medical professionals use their expertise to help you get justice after an injury caused by medical negligence.
For a free consultation at the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., call us today at (310) 289-2600 or use our online contact form to have your case reviewed for free.