POOR COMMUNICATION: MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS

 Some years back, a Canadian Research Institute looked to establish a root cause for injuries caused through Medical Negligence.  It concluded that the principal cause is a breakdown in clear communication within the Medical Setting itself.

At O’Shea Russell Solicitors, in looking after Medical Negligence Claim for Clients, we have established this breakdown in communication to be a major factor through our Legal Discovery Processes. Improved communication within Medical Settings is key to reducing such incidences.  Currently we see communication breakdown in advance of treatment, during treatment and post-treatment.

With interest we have noted that Bayler University Medical Centre in Dallas, Texas has undertaken similar research (but specifically from the perspective of the Medical Profession looking to improve performance) and has focused on the failure of communication post injury:

Common themes emerged. The 4 predominant reasons prompting patients to initiate Compensation Claims included 1) a desire to prevent a similar (bad) incident from happening again; 2) a need for an explanation as to how and why an injury happened; 3) a desire for financial compensation to make up for actual losses, pain, and suffering or to provide future care for the injured patient; and 4) a desire to hold doctors accountable for their actions.

Overwhelmingly, the dominant theme in these studies’ findings was a breakdown in the patient-physician relationship, most often manifested as unsatisfactory patient-physician communication. Study participants described the perceived communication problems as follows: physicians would not listen, would not talk openly, attempted to mislead them, or did not warn them of long-term neurodevelopmental problems (in the case of newborn injury). Other communication problems cited included perceptions that doctors deserted patients or were otherwise unavailable, devalued patient or family views, delivered information poorly, or failed to understand the patient’s perspective.

One of the most difficult aspects of medical practice is dealing with adverse outcomes. A complication that occurs during medical care or treatment is distressing to the physician, the patient, and the patient’s family. When the patient experiences an adverse outcome, it is always better to have a forthright conversation with the patient, explaining what happened and why. The best reason for disclosure is that it is the one sure way of assuring that the patient will continue to trust the physician. Nothing defuses patient anger better and faster than a sympathetic, open-minded physician who is willing to discuss not just the successful outcomes of care but the glitches and problems that arise as well. Studies have shown that what patients want from their physicians following an error is an apology and the assurance that what happened to them will not happen to someone else.

On the flip side, several studies have shown that failure to be honest with patients is a frequent cause of litigation.

FOR A FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION if you are concerned that you may have been harmed when undergoing medical treatment or a medical procedure please contact our Offices for an Appointment with Mary R. O’Shea Solicitors our Partner who specialises in this area

Contact: Mary R. O’Shea Solicitor

O’Shea Russell Solicitors

Main Street, Graignamanagh, County Kilkenny

Tel: 059 9724106

Email: mary@oshearussell.ie
www.oshearussell.ie

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