Why You Should Care About Patient Communication

Patient Communication

Communication – My Story

In my work in providing medical malpractice insurance, I send emails or letters that give instructions to doctors and practice managers on our renewal process. Often there are application forms, additional documents required, and payments that may need to be sent to various locations.   Unfortunately, when I receive information back, it is not complete, there are missing documents, and/or payments are sent to the wrong address. I often wonder, “Am I not making this clear?”

Although this question was about helping my physician clients, it led me to consider if physicians are experiencing the same issues with their patients. Are they being clear in providing instructions to patients so they can receive the best possible care? Furthermore, is failure to communicate a causation for medical malpractice claims?

Patient Communication and Medical Malpractice

I checked in with CRICO, the insurance carrier that provides medical malpractice insurance to Boston area teaching hospitals and physicians.  They state that between 2006-2012, there were 1,160 medical malpractice claims filed with their company.  Of those, 484 were said to have been brought on by communication failures.  The incurred losses were $264 million, which was 44% of incurred losses for that same period.  Three of the allegations were due to the following:

  • Poor Rapport and Unsympathetic View
  • Lack of Education Regarding Medications
  • Inadequate Follow-up Instructions

Our goal in this week’s blog is to provide ways to avoid these types of medical malpractice claims in the future.

Patient Communication – Improve Rapport and Unsympathetic Views

To improve poor rapport and empathy, we introduce Doug Wojcieszak, founder of Sorry Works! Doug’s personal family tragedy led him to form Sorry Works! with the goal in enabling physicians to say they are sorry without their words being admissible in court. Currently, there are 36 states with Apology Laws. Peruse the Sorry Works! site to find information on Disclosure and Apology laws in your state.
Sorry Works!

Patient Communication – Improve Medication Adherence

I found and loved this presentation provided by the CDC on Medication Adherence. It’s comprehensive in helping providers understand why there is lack of medication adherence and provides valuable insight into solving this issue.

Patient Communication – Follow-up Instructions and Difficult Patients

CRICO is an excellent resource for risk management, even for non-CRICO insureds.
CRICO_TAGLINE_RGB_40x250
Consider the article entitled, Difficult Clinician-Patient Communication that provides insight and assistance in communicating with difficult patients.

We hope these resources provide valuable insight and help to your practice. We would love to hear your thoughts on what you are doing in your practice to improve patient communication.

Patient Communication – References

http://www.aafp.org/fpm/2006/0900/p73.html

https://www.rmf.harvard.edu/Clinician-Resources/Article/2012/Insight-Communication-Factors-in-Mal-Cases

http://www.sorryworks.net/

http://www.cdc.gov/primarycare/materials/medication/index.html

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