Find Out Why The Doctor Hand-Off Can Be Dangerous


When one doctor takes over patient care for another doctor, the chances of medical errors increase. That’s the finding from a recent study carried out by a hospital insurer.

In this issue, we’ll talk about what’s going on.

The Study at a Glance

A company that insures Harvard-affiliated hospitals examined over 23,000 medical malpractice claims, and found that 30% of them included a breakdown in communication when those cases were transferred among doctors.

In those cases, “facts, figures or findings got lost between the individuals who had the information and those who needed it.”

Drilling down further into the 30%, we find that:

  • Half had communication breakdowns between two or more health care providers; and
  • The other half contained miscommunication between health care providers and patients.

So what’s the worst that can happen?

In the world of medicine, lost information can lead to lost lives. Among the medical malpractice cases in the study are:

  • A woman whose cancer diagnosis – and treatment – were delayed for a year because her lab result was not flagged for her primary care doctor;
  • A patient dying from a hemorrhage after a nurse failed to tell a surgeon about the patient complaining of abdominal pain combined with a drop in red blood cells just after surgery;
  • A 63-year-old man dying after findings of bilateral pneumonia were not passed along to his pulmonologist.

How can the communication barrier be bridged?

There are a host of things medical professionals and patients can do to make sure that communication is flowing freely.

For doctors, suggestions include:

  • Creating a culture that champions staff speaking up; and
  • Paying close attention to follow-up care for patients – particularly after a hospital stay.

Things patients can do to help prevent medical errors include:

  • Making sure you, your doctor and surgeon all agree on what is to be done during surgery;
  • Asking a family member or friend to attend your appointments with you; and
  • Speaking up with questions and concerns.

Call The Fitzgerald Law Firm If You Suspect Medical Malpractice

If you’ve experienced medical malpractice or merely suspect that you have, do not hesitate to get in touch the Fitzgerald Law Firm.

The first consultation is always free, and our number is 800-323-9900.