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The dangers of poor communication by medical professionals

If you or a loved one has been hospitalized recently, you may have felt overwhelmed by the seemingly dizzying number of medical personnel in and out of the room administering medications and doing all types of poking and prodding. You may have wondered how they all stay on the same page regarding your care.

While hospitals have processes in place to help ensure that proper communication is maintained by members of a patient's medical team and increasingly computerized systems have helped with this, lack of communication still results in too many medical errors, injuries and even fatalities. Poor or delayed communication that's caused by failure by one or more hospital staff members to follow accepted medical practices may be considered medical malpractice.

Following are two key reasons for breakdowns in communication:

-- Written versus verbal orders: Sometimes a doctor will detail one set of orders on a patient's chart, while giving different (and incorrect) verbal orders. Verbal orders are the ones that are often followed. On other occasions, doctors will write down important orders on a patient's chart, while giving no verbal orders, so a nurse fails to look at the chart in a timely manner.-- Hospital hierarchies: Anyone who's ever watched a medical television show knows that there's a clear pecking order in hospitals, with doctors above nurses. Depending on how prickly a particular doctor is, nurses and even lower-ranking doctors and other staff members may hesitate or fail to question a doctor's orders when they believe they're wrong.

Determining whether a fatal injury or illness suffered at a hospital or after release was the result of medical malpractice takes investigation by professionals in the medical field and knowledge of the state's malpractice laws. Experienced Mississippi malpractice attorneys can provide guidance on your legal options.

Source: Ground Report, "Poor Communication Among Hospital Staff Resulting in Medical Malpractice?," Matt Rhoney, Sep. 22, 2016

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