Effective Communication in the Emergency Department: Implications on Patient Safety Culture

2104 Words 9 Pages
Communication is an essential and constant exchange of information between the patient and health professional with full understanding occurring on both camps (The Joint Commission, 2010, p. 1). It is one of the major activities done by healthcare staff across diverse settings (Redfern, Brown, & Vincent, 2009). Research shows that communication breakdown is one, if not the leading cause, of medical errors (Kohn L., 1999). For instance, out of 258 malpractice claims which led to patient harm, nearly 25 % was due to failures in communication (Greenberg, Regenbogen, & Studdert, 2007). 61 % of 176 incident reports to the Australian Incident Monitoring Study in Intensive Care resulted from communication breakdown (Beckmann, Gillies, Berenholtz, …show more content…
Currently, many approaches have been developed for its promotion, with some gearing towards practices that prevent system errors instead of relying on human knowledge or memory and which minimise risks and hazards similar to aviation (Doucette, 2006; Pronovost et al., 2009), nuclear and military industries (Clarke, Lerner, & Marella, 2007).

Nevertheless, few fully describe how ineffective communication can result in compromising patient safety due to several challenging and dynamic factors, with little known about interventions that can prevent communication breakdown. This essay proposes to discuss that communication, integrated with teamwork and coordination, can positively and negatively affect the patient safety culture. The writer will focus on the ED setting and will discuss the different methods used to address this critical issue.

A stark example of poor communication may occur during admission. To illustrate, an adult patient suffering from panic attacks and admitted for psychiatric evaluation went through more than five physicians and eight nurses during his stay at the ED before he was finally transferred to the Critical Care Unit (CCU) for non Q-wave myocardial infarction