Effective Communication and Patient Safety


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Communication has a direct impact on patient safety, according to a new report which found that hospitals where physicians and nurses scored highest on communication also had fewer patient safety events.

The report from HealthGrades is summarized in this article on Nurse.com. The report analyzed patient safety data for hospitalizations between 2008 and 2010.

They found that during that time period, 254,000 patient safety events among Medicare patients could have been prevented, and that 56,367 Medicare patients who died experienced one or more of these events. Data was also taken from Medicare patients’ satisfaction scores. The better the communication, the better the care.

Among the report’s key findings:

• 27% more overall patient safety events occurred in hospitals performing in the bottom 10% for nursing communication, compared to the top 10;

• 15% more overall patient safety events occurred in hospitals performing in the bottom 10% for physician communication, compared to those in the top 10%;

• 13% more patients at hospitals performing in the top 10% for patient satisfaction reported they received instructions on what to do when they left the hospital, compared to the bottom 10% — key guidance that underscores the importance of communication, according to the report.

HealthGrades conducted the analysis as part of its process for identifying the HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award and HealthGrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award recipients. This year, 263 hospitals received the Patient Safety Excellence Award (http://bit.ly/JDRf3e) and 332 received the Outstanding Patient Experience Award (http://bit.ly/JIHBly), with 47 receiving both.

“We have reached a point where Americans must acknowledge the connection between communicating with their healthcare provider and their own safety and satisfaction as patients,” Kristin Reed, MPH, the author of the study and vice president of clinical quality programs for HealthGrades, said in a news release. “Our research revealed some shocking disconnects.”

For example, Reed said, catheter-related bloodstream infections were about 56% more common in hospitals with poor nursing or physician communication.