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Breakdowns in medical communication can be hazardous

Getting medical care can be a test in patience. When you need treatment from more than one doctor or hospital department, medical professionals might hand off your case repeatedly. These hand offs, which occur when you go from your hospital room to radiology, for example, are necessary. But some patients are injured because of negligence and disorganization in the process.

While there are several different problems that can occur during a hospital admission, hand offs are often the most problematic. And these problems are among the most preventable. If you or a family member is heading into a hospital, consider these points.

Communication with the patient is key

In hospital settings, proper communication -- during each step of the treatment process -- is key. Different medical professionals might need different information about you or your case. At a minimum, the staff involved should find out your name, birth date, and other critical information that can help them to identify you correctly.

As irritating as it might be, hospital staff members should verify your identity at the beginning of their interactions with you. This includes patient transport, testing and medication administration. Verifying your information is one layer of protection for you that might help to prevent you from getting treatments intended for someone else.

Record exchanges are imperative

Not only does the staff need to communicate with a patient, they also need to communicate with all medical personnel involved in the patient's care. Records, including test results, patient complaints, and anything else that can impact care must go through an appropriate exchange.

For example, when medical professionals don't exchange test results, crucial diagnostic information may be missing. A patient who has breast cancer might not get the diagnosis if mammogram results aren't provided to a medical care provider.

Electronic health records, which are common now, make it easier for medical professionals to have quick access to records. But the lines can get crossed because different providers use different systems. And concerns about privacy and security are justified when technology is unreliable.

Seeking compensation might be necessary

Patients who suffer harm because of medical errors might opt to seek compensation for the damages. A successful claim for compensation could mean a reduced financial strain. It could make it possible for the victim to get the medical care necessary to cope with the effects of the error. It might also help to cover life expenses that added up due to the lack of ability to work because of the injury.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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