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Doctor errors, malpractice falls with proper handoff procedures

Miscommunication is one of the things that can cause medical errors to occur. For example, if you come to the emergency room and tell the nurse you're allergic to a medication and she or he then verbally explains the allergy but misidentifies the medication, you could be at risk of injury. This is something that you and the medical team want to avoid, since it can mean a longer stay in the hospital for you and a mark on their records.

Your doctor has a responsibility to understand, diagnose, and treat your condition correctly. If you're mistreated due to paperwork that was mixed up, confused, or written out incorrectly, then you may be in a position to seek a medical malpractice claim.

In a study conducted in 2014, it was found that when handoffs were accompanied by paperwork and audio recordings, the medical-error rates fell by 23 percent for those 10,740 patient admissions. Typically, there are 24.5 errors per 100 patient admissions, but during the intervention of the study, that number dropped to 18.8 per 100 admissions.

The change in the way handoffs were completed did not reduce things like nonpreventable adverse events by much, but in six of the nine states that participated in the study, there was a significant drop in the number of errors that took place.

What the study determined is that with the implementation of a handoff program, medical errors and preventable adverse events can be reduced without hurting the time it takes doctors to see patients. Work flow remains little changed, but the overall benefit is that fewer accidents take place when the right procedures are in place.

Source: PubMed.Gov, "Changes in medical errors after implementation of a handoff program," accessed March. 26, 2015

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