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






Discuss the importance of body language as an aspect of communication

Discuss the importance of body language as an aspect of communication

Blowing a kiss, waving, winking, giving an OK sign, thumbs up or thumbs down, giving the peace sign, and staring- all ways of communicating. Words weren’t spoken, but actions were noticed. These channels of communication are called body language or nonverbal communication. Everybody uses body language. As soon as we are in contact with others, we are communicating.

Body language is used when words are inadequate. We don’t tell each other that easily how we feel about each other, or how the words of a message need to be interpreted. In order to make the meaning of the words more clearly we use body language.

Body language is used to express feelings. It can be very difficult to lie or cover up through body language. People can give away their true feelings by not being aware of their body language. For instance, if we don’t like someone, it may be difficult to say that directly to the person. Instead, we can make it clear either intentionally or unintentionally through body language.

Kinesics is the study of motion and how people use them to communicate.

Kinesics follows into five categories:

  • Emblems– directly translate words or phrases. Examples are an OK sign, hitchhiker’s sign, and a “come here” wave.
  • Illustrators– cues that accompany and literally “illustrate” or add meaning to verbal messages. Examples are pointing when talking, hands far apart when talking of something large, and circular hand movements when talking of a circle.
  • Affect displays- facial expressions communicating emotions and feelings. Examples are pouting, winking, and eyebrow movement.
  • Regulators– cues that monitor, maintain, or control the speaking primarily of another. Examples are head nods and body shifts.
  • Adaptors– behaviors that satisfy some need and help you adapt to a situation. Examples are scratching your head, restless movements, and personal nervous actions.

The most revealing feature on your face is your eyes. The eyes are the “mirrors of the soul”. Smiling can give insight into how someone is feeling. A smile can have multiple meanings.

Physical appearance plays a role in our evaluations of others. Physical characteristics get noticed by other people. People might express themselves in terms of body language, like staring at an attractive person. Body artifacts, such as clothing, body piercings, make-up, and tattoos also get noticed by other people.

Haptics, or touch communication, is the most primitive form of human communication.

Touch can send different messages:

  • Positive emotion
  • Playfulness
  • Control
  • Ritualistic- which is a handshake to say hello or goodbye
  • Task function- a dentist or hair stylist
  • Hybrid function- to greet a person or show affection
  • Accidental- done without apparent intent

The elements of your environment can affect how a person feels and acts which contributes to body language. These elements include: sounds, smells, colors, temperature, architecture, designs, lighting, and furnishings. An example is the dentist office. The environment in the dentist office affects my body language. The elements of sound, smell, and furnishings affect the way I act and feel. I have a terrified and anxious look on my face until I leave the dentist office. While I am in the dentist chair, I tightly grip the chair arms. The dental assistants know from my body language how I feel about going to the dentist.

Body language is extremely influential in everyday life. It influences how relationships are established, maintained, and dissolved. It influences marital satisfaction and stability. Body language can help in the diagnosis of health-related problems, such as autism and how babies show emotional distress.

Body language can also by very distracting. When a person is communicating with another, they may tend to focus more on your nonverbal displays than on what you are saying. This will likely have the meaning to be unclear or little meaning will be exchanged in the interaction. Remember to keep in mind the relationship between verbal and nonverbal messages, “actions speak louder than words”.

Jill McClure, IUPUC student

Source:  West, Richard and Turner H. Lynn. Understanding Interpersonal Communication: Making choices in changing times. 2nd ed. Massachusetts: Wadsworth, 2006. Print.


Should Cursive Writing Be Taught in Schools?

As of right now, 41 states do not require cursive writing to be a part of their curriculum (“5 Reasons Cursive Writing”). That is far too many states in my opinion. There are many reasons as to why cursive is important and necessary to teach in elementary school.

Since Technology has increased drastically, many people think that teaching cursive writing is a waste of time. However, cursive motivates the brain. When writing in this form it improves the dynamic interplay of the left and right cerebral hemispheres, assists in creating neural pathways, and improves mental effectiveness (Hatfield).

Cursive uses different hand muscles and activates different parts of the brain that neither typing nor printing can do. For a more beneficial way to further the development of motor skills, children should be between the ages of 7 and 8 (“5 Reasons Cursive Writing”). Teaching children repetition by encouraging the force needing to be applied to the pencil and paper, positioning the pencil on the paper at the right angle, and motor planning to form writing each letter smoothly from the left to right creates physical and special awareness to write. Repetition also creates neural foundation of sensory skills to perform everyday tasks such as tying shoes, picking up objects, reacting, buttoning, and note-taking (Hatfield).

By learning cursive, it gives children the opportunity to better understand and know the alphabet. If they are only taught English in one form, print, then they only get that one chance of learning and memorizing the alphabet. It also gives a clear understanding of how letters are formed and that can also improve on printing as well (“5 Reasons Cursive Writing”).

Some children write sloppy in print that it is hard to determine where one word ends and another begins. However, cursive requires children to write from left to right so letters join together in correct sequence, which makes it easier to read. In cursive, it allows the child to see words as a whole, instead of separate letters, and makes it easier to check for spelling. After repetition of the use of cursive, the hand acknowledges the spelling patterns through movements that are repeated in spelling (Hatfield).

If schools take away cursive writing, students will not be able to read or write important documents. Many of the historical documents are written in cursive. Some of these documents are translated into print online but there are still some that are not. Without knowing cursive, children will miss out on our history and even read important letters from grandparents or great-grandparents. The older generation use cursive daily and if kids do not learn how to read it then they will miss out on certain things (Hatfield).

Cursive writing is a unique form of writing that can only be read by those who have been taught to write it. Using this form of writing is how we sign our own important documents such as checks, contracts, opening bank accounts, etc. With that being said, there are many important reasons why cursive should be a requirement to be taught in schools.

By Taylor Seaborn, Business Major – IUPUC

Works Cited

“5 Reasons Cursive Writing Should be Taught in School | Concordia University – Portland online.” Concordia University’s Online Education                           Degrees | Online Masters in Education. Web. 12 Sept. 2013. http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/curriculum-instruction/5-reasons-cursive-writing-should-be-taught-in-school/.

Hatfield, Iris. “Teaching Cursive Handwriting Tips Cursive Workbooks .”Teaching Cursive Handwriting Tips Cursive Workbooks Penmanship .                           Memoria Press, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2013. http://www.newamericancursive.com/learncursive.

Conflict in the Workplace

When it comes to conflict, I can honestly say, over the past decade of being a manager I have seen and dealt with a lot of it.  I have seen hundreds, possibly thousands, of different scenarios and have assisted people with working through the conflict to reach a resolution. You could say conflict management is a large part of my job as a general manager.  During a normal work week I spend between 20-30% of my time identifying conflict and defusing it before it escalades into an out of control issue that can leave lasting consequences.

Most people believe conflict is bad within a company and it should be prevented. However, conflict is all around us, we all deal with it daily.  People like conflict; we verify this every time we turn on our televisions to the newest reality show. The longest running television series in America, according to Wikipedia, is Guiding Light at 18,262 episodes.  This is a show centered on conflict in a small group of people’s lives. If you are more of a reader than someone who likes television, when was the last time you read a good novel in which the main character did not face some type of conflict?  The truth is conflict is ingrained into our everyday lives. 

Is conflict always bad for a company? We are going to analyze conflict and what kind of outcomes it has within companies.  We will also cover some ways to work through conflict.

Before we dive deep into this topic lets define conflict. Dictionary.com defines conflict as a verb, “to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; clash.”   It can also be a noun; a fight or battle, quarrel, controversy.  Now with conflict defined, let’s discuss it.

Those who say conflict is bad for a company are partially correct; conflict can cost companies large sums of money, and their reputations, can negatively affect outcomes and can sometime lead to a company failing. When conflict is ignored and problems begin to arise from said conflict, problems will begin to surface. Some problems with conflict are that they involve personal attacks that can lead to hateful behaviors. Conflict doesn’t help organizations solve problems, it creates problems. Large amounts of bad conflict also create negative morale in companies that can lead to decreased production with a team, lowered performance level and poor attendance. 

There are a great deal of factors that can cause conflict such as:

–          age difference

–          preference

–          morals

–          maturity

–          methods of communication

–          misunderstandings

–          passion level or involvement for the job/task

–          interdependence conflict

–          gender

–          methods to obtain goals

Now that we can see some causes and outcomes that unaddressed conflict can have in the workplace let’s look at it in a different context. Conflict doesn’t always have to get out of control to the point that it becomes strictly emotional and starts tearing teams apart. Conflict can generate positive consequences as well as negative.  If conflict is effectively manage red it can result in:

–          A less stressful work environment

–          Increased morale

–          Increased loyalty to the company or cause

–          Lowered heath care cost

–          Team cohesion

–          Personal and professional growth

–          Increase in communication leading to new ideas that benefit the company

The best way to foster an environment with beneficial conflict is to learn to identify conflict between employees before it gets overly emotional for the employees. All conflict should be addressed as soon as it is noticed.  Your employees should always feel free to communicate ideas without reprimand or personal attack. 

If you have begun working in an environment filled with negative conflict personal mediation may be required of you.  As the mediator you have a very important role in conflict resolution. There are many things you will need to know to become a good mediator. 

–          No one is right or wrong. Both sides will have to give some for a successful resolution.

–          Get to the root cause for the conflict. The true reason for the conflict may not always be on the surface.

–          Set guidelines to establish you as the leader and to ensure there will be mutual respect and vulgar language is not used.

–          The most emotionally explosive time will be at the beginning of discussion. Once both sides have made their initial statement you will then be able to mediate the situation better.

–          Ensure only one person speaks at a time.

–          Be sincere, and listen with empathy.

–          Paraphrase what is said to display your involvement in the mediating and to show you have an understanding of what both parties are saying.

–          Focus on separating the persons from the facts.  Make the conversation about the facts, not the parties involved.

–          Ask open ended questions to encourage involvement.

–          Offer alternatives to the current situation to help correct the problem.

–          Make sure both sides buy into the solution. If one person is talking and the other is silent you need to be able to pick up on the fact that the silent party is not happy with the solution and you need to continue seeking alternatives. Without both sides buying into the action plan you will not have a favorable outcome.

–          Always follow up on the situation to ensure the agreed upon solution is working.

If you are able to perfect these skills it will be very beneficial in maintaining an environment with less negative conflict and more positive interactions. People will be able to see that you care about them and begin caring more for the business. Conflict can be damaging to a company if not properly managed.  When in a work place of motivated people there will always be some level of conflict. I would have to agree with the quote, “Show me a workplace without conflict and I’ll show you a workplace where no one gives a damn.” – Alexander Kjerulf

By Richard Dockins Business/Marketing Major IUPUC

What you said and what I heard.

What you said… What I heard.

Your non-verbal communication could be the reason you are not getting the job of your dreams or the promotion you really deserve.  Some of the number one reasons companies are not or will not hire you is not because of what you say verbally but what your non-verbal communication is saying about you. Some of the top reasons are piercings, bad breath, visible tattoos, wrinkled clothes, and messy hair according to Forbes magazine.

  • Piercings: 37%                                                                
  • Bad breath: 34%                                                                            
  • Visible tattoos: 31%     

But how far will employers go? For example American Apparel’s corporate policy states that shiny lip gloss and bangs are forbidden as well as over drying hair may cause excessive drying. Yet most companies don’t have a written policy on tattoos and piercings. Tattoos have come a long way from when they were only on felons and bikers. Today it is just as likely for Robin to have a tattoo as it is for me.  Roughly 24 percent of Americans ages 18 – 50 have at least one tattoo.

Although a tattoo may represent a fond memory, your personality, or that one crazy night in Vegas, they are nothing more than a body adornment just like a wedding ring or even the clothes you wear. They also project just as much non-verbal communication as the tone of your voice. Your voice can clearly let another person know what kind of mood you are in, if you are comfortable, or if you have a bad attitude. Same can be said for your tattoos and piercings. They could be misconstrued as negative simply because the tattoos could be misinterpreted.  An example is a petunia tattoo, a petunia in the flower world stands for anger and resentment. There are also Hindu tattoos such as a swastika. A swastika can easily be mistaken for having Nazi beliefs as opposed to a very common form of Hindu art meaning good fortune, luck and well-being.  The problem is most companies do not know what you are projecting with piercings and tattoos since they can be easily misunderstood.

An employer’s main concern is how to cover up the tattoos or sometimes will just write the potential employees off because of their tattoos. Companies may not be realizing that they could be missing out on the next best thing since sliced bread because of how they are interpreting the tattoo or piercing.  Be aware of what your non-verbal communication is saying about you. You may not get fired for having a tattoo but you also may not get hired.  As always, think before you ink.

Cites: Faw, Larissa. Visible Tattoos and Other Corporate No-Nos. ForbesWoman. Forbes.com. September 25,2011

By: Natalie Taylor

Conflict has “bad” Connotation

Webster’s Dictionary defines conflict as a “fight, battle or war.”  My initial reaction to this definition was, can conflict be a good thing?  Conflict generally has a bad connotation surrounding it. Not only is there bad conflict but there is also good conflict and we see examples of both in everyday life. 

Conflict arises from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes or demands.  Conflict can be internal or external and all people deal with it in different ways, the most common form of resolving conflict is some form of confrontation.  I cannot go on without saying that there is another popular method for resolving conflict, which is ignoring the problem all together.  People who like to avoid conflict are often trying to keep the peace amongst people.  The problem with ignoring conflict is that the problem will still persist until it is dealt with or someone else handles it. 

In the 21st century change is continuous and always occurring.  The slogan leading Barack Obama’s presidential campaign “Change We Can Believe In” is one example of how the world is ready for change.  However, there is one setback; the more that change is added to an environment the higher the level of conflict there will be.  Conflict is often slower to arise between people and organizations in a normal environment without change.  Living a conflict-free life is all but impossible in a world full of change. 

How conflict is handled determines whether it is good or bad.  Many of us do not like conflict but it can really be a good thing, especially when it helps a team or employees identify the best possible ideas.  When emotional responses are set aside progress can really start.  A key for conflict to go well is to have good communication skills.  The tone of an employee’s voice alone can dictate how the conflict is dealt with.  There are always problems that have to be dealt with and if handled correctly they could make some good out of the bad.     

There are a number of reasons why conflict can go bad very quickly or even be doomed from the start.  The way that an individual decides to deal with an issue sets the scene for results.  The first attempt to deal with conflict should be non-confrontational and more of a relaxed approach to achieve the best results.  That method does not work with all conflicts and sometimes laying down the law is the only option.  Being knowledgeable of the situation and who you are dealing with is also very important.  When dealing with conflict avoid playing the blame game, not listening, being defensive and trying to win. 

Personally I like to think of conflict as either good or bad while some people see conflict as neither good nor bad and just something that happens in life that has to be dealt with for progress.  Both good and bad conflicts lead to progress, it just might not be the direction you had in mind.

By Gregory Kelley, Business Major- IUPUC

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