Bad Communication Bad Communication 'Puts Patients at Risk'

Article excerpt

Byline: Vic Rodrick

PATIENTS undergoing surgery in Scottish hospitals are being put at risk by a lack of communication between doctors and nurses.

Surgeons and anaesthetists are failing to pass on vital information about specialist care, medication and wound treatment, a survey into post-operative handovers found.

Now patient safety experts have drawn up a 21-point checklist to ensure that patients are properly looked after during recovery.

They have recommended that it should become standard procedure in all NHS hospitals.

Last night, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) said it was improving communications but acknowledged that more needed to be done.

The report, by academics at Imperial College London, found that information required for continuing care was frequently 'missing, incomplete and scattered'. It warned that handover failures have been identified as a significant source of medical failures, accounting for 20 per cent of malpractice claims in the U.S.

Scottish hospitals record more than 1,000 adverse incidents a year and the compensation bill for medical negligence has risen dramatically in recent years.

Previous research found that 14 per cent of recovery room incidents in the UK were due to communication failures at the handover. The Imperial College academics concluded: 'The post-operative phase has largely been ignored, despite the fact this is a common area for communication failure in surgical care.

'Information is often "overloaded" on the recovery nurse from surgeons, anaesthetists, nursing staff and technicians - often without prioritisation and in an already distraction-rich environment. …