Education Update, The risk of working with others
Dr Mark O’Brien looks at reducing risk from professional interactions
While poor patient communication has long been established as a major risk factor for complaints or claims, Dr Priya Singh, Executive Director, Professional Services, MPS, notes: “It is important members know that ensuring high quality verbal and written communication between doctors has been identified by MPS as an important strategy to reduce the risk of patient harm and action against members.&rsquo
Disagreements between clinicians are common and poor communication between doctors in this situation can contribute to patients believing they’ve received poor care
MPS has increasingly identified communication between doctors as a significant source of risk in two critical areas.
Referrals and handovers
Patient care is often passed between doctors, whether in the form of a referral or a handover. In these instances, poor communication can lead to:
- Abnormal investigations not acted on
- Wrong diagnosis made or wrong investigation and treatment undertaken
- High risk treatments not effectively monitored
- Predictable complications not recognised
- Significant co-morbidities not taken into account
- Unnecessary investigation and treatment.
Disagreements between colleagues
Disagreements between clinicians are common and poor communication between doctors in this situation can contribute to patients believing they’ve received poor care. Hickson found doctors urging patients to sue was a factor in one third of litigation cases.1
Helping you to reduce your exposure to these risks
These challenging situations are explored in MPS’s Mastering Professional Interactions workshop. This half-day workshop is offered free of charge to members, as a benefit of membership.
Mastering Professional Interactions is run in Ireland. For more information, including forthcoming dates, locations and online booking, please visit:www.medicalprotection.org/ireland/workshops.
- Hickson GB et al, Obstetricians’ Prior Malpractice Experience and Patients’ Satisfaction with Care, JAMA 272: 1583-1587 (1994).