Miscommunication That Can Lead to Malpractice in Hospitals

Did you know that the leading cause for malpractice in hospitals is miscommunication?

According to the research that I have done, there are five key risk factors as to why miscommunication can happen in hospitals; Culture/ Ethnicity, Beliefs, Literacy, and Gender.

Culture and Ethnicity are major reasons why there is miscommunication in hospitals. “In 2008, according to the U.S. Census, nearly 20% of people living in the United States spoke a different language.” (Quan. Introduction) Though, that does not seem like a lot of people, think of how many people speak a foreign language in today’s world. This is a problem for hospitals and medical professionals because there is a language barrier between the two. If you have a Spanish speaking patient, and an English speaking doctor, chances are there is going to be some type of miscommunication. This is where it is necessary for hospitals to have language translators. Whether it be the medical staff learning the major languages that are in the United States, or by hiring immigrants who know English well enough that the medical staff can understand what the patient needs or wants.

Socioeconomics is another risk for miscommunication in hospitals that can cause malpractice. A patient’s beliefs can determine what a doctor can and cannot do for them. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in blood transfusions, this can cause a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding for hospital staff. Even if it means, letting them die, the doctor has to respect the patient’s beliefs. Ways that this can be dealt with is for the doctor to understand the culture itself. If the doctor is trying to give the patient something they do not believe in, that is going against who they are. Medical staff should always be understanding and caring even if what the patient believes in hurts them more than helps.

Does every patient understand medical terms? More than likely, absolutely not. If every patient understood medical terms, they would not receive a prescription, and wonder, “Now, what’s this for?” This is where miscommunication falls into place. When patients do not know their medical terminology, and do not ask the doctor questions when it is appropriate, things can get sticky. Not knowing what you are taking, can hurt you rather than help. A solution for this maybe to require students in high school to take classes to understand these words. An etymology class would be great for this. Advisors at my high school suggested this class for students who planned on going into the medical field.

Many people do not understand that there is a difference between sex and gender. Sex refers to biological, or what you are born with. Such as, your external sex organs. Gender is the characteristics that a society or culture defines as masculine of feminine. When a patient is a male, but dresses as a female, this can cause miscommunication between the patient and staff. One, they do not know what to call this patient. And, if they did not know what sex the patient was and gave him a medicine they would typically give a female, this can lead to a problem. In order to understand these kinds of people, is to actually get to know them before prescribing them medicine. Even if the patient checked off on the patient form that he was a she, it is still important to figure out who the doctor is really dealing with.

All of the things that I have talked about lead to the malpractice if miscommunicated. My suggestions will hopefully, one day, be a thing in the past and we will not have to worry about miscommunication between patients and medical staff.

Works Cited Page

http://www.hhnmag.com/hhnmag/jsp/articledisplay.jsp?dcrpath=HHNMAG/PubsNewsArticle/data/2006August/0608HHN_gatefold&domain=HHNMAG

http://www.med.monash.edu.au/gendermed/sexandgender.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jehovah’s_Witnesses_and_blood_transfusions

https://www.ecri.org/Forms/Documents/Communication.pdf

http://healthlaw.org/images/stories/High_Costs_of_Language_Barriers_in_Malpractice.pdf

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