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Press Release: Failures in Communication Contribute to Medical Malpractice

  • January 31, 2016

New report identifies malpractice risks in communication failures, which is a factor in 30 percent of all medical malpractice claims

While communication failures are varied, the implications are real: unsafe patient care. The new CRICO Strategies CBS Report, Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures, analyzed national medical malpractice claims and found that 30 percent of all claims involve a communication failure. These claims involve communication breakdowns where acts, figures, or findings got lost between the individuals who had that information and those who needed it—across the spectrum of health care services and settings. With a special focus on General Medicine, Obstetrics, Nursing, and Surgery, this Report shines light on miscommunication and identifies specific opportunities to improve skills and systems to mitigate those risks.

Mined from CRICO Strategies Comparative Benchmarking System (CBS), the CBS Report highlights communication failures within selected services of general medicine, obstetrics, nursing, and surgery cases. 


Talking about communication failures, Mark E. Reynolds, president of CRICO said, “An important takeaway from this analysis is that when a claim has provider-provider communication failures, it is more likely to result in payment than cases with provider-patient communication issues. The data in this Report look at specific drivers of those breakdowns which offers organizations actionable intelligence to implement solutions to mitigate those risks.”

CRICO Strategies CBS database currently holds more than 320,000 medical malpractice cases from more than 400 hospitals nation-wide and provides a unique insight into what goes wrong, and why. Participating organizations contribute their claims to the ever-growing pool of data and are awarded with analysis that offers insight to specific risk vulnerabilities. Armed with this data, health care providers and leaders have a clear line of sight on how to change specific clinical systems or clinician behaviors and reduce those dominant risks. Says Heather Riah, assistant vice president of CRICO Strategies, “Communication difficulties are not isolated to providers lacking “people skills” or patient with language or comprehension deficits. Every mode and system by which patients and caregivers share health-related information is vulnerable to failure. Our Report helps identify and mitigate those risks.”

Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures is available online as a PDF. For more information about the origin of the data, CBS membership, and additional Strategies services and products, contact: Gretchen Ruoff, MPH, CPHRM at this number 617.450.5571 or by email.