The Consequences of Communication Breakdowns
The impact of ineffective communications has a significant role on the quality of care patients receive as well as on healthcare organizations’ bottom lines.
In the report published by CRICO Strategies, CRICO examined over 23,000 medical malpractice claims filed between 2009 and 2013. Three out of every 10 cases filed were directly tied to at least one specific breakdown in communication. “Errors often occur because information is unrecorded, misdirected, never received, never retrieved, or ignored,” the report states.
Cases that were tied to communication errors were more likely to end in an indemnity payment. Those payments were, on average, greater than the average of the indemnity payments overall.
Altogether, the CRICO report found that communication-related incidents cost the healthcare industry a total of $1.7 billion — and that’s just the cost of cases that ended in malpractice suits. Malpractice cases are higher profile but they account for a very small fraction of healthcare encounters.There are many more incidents of ineffective communication that create negative health outcomes and operational inefficiencies that do not result in malpractice suits
Altogether, in a conservative calculation, the Journal of Healthcare Management estimates that the average 500-bed United States hospital loses $4 million per year due to communication inefficiencies.