Dangers of Poor Communication in Healthcare

Healthcare careers often involve helping and interacting with others. Although there may be other dangers in healthcare that might overshadow the importance of communication, it is vital for ensuring proper patient care. Poor communication can cost time and cause stress for both patients and coworkers.

Read on to explore the crucial role of effective communication in healthcare and discover practical ways to improve and enhance it within your medical practice.

Between Doctors and Nurses

The first barrier in healthcare communication is between providers. These barriers can cause issues for businesses, such as between doctors and nurses or other professionals. Poor communication can negatively impact patient results and recovery. Everyone should be on the same page and work together to improve communication. Here are some examples of how poor communication between doctors and nurses can be dangerous:

  • Poor Documentation: Nurses and doctors rely on medical forms and documents for patient information. Providers at all levels should be able to write correctly and avoid shortening words or slang unless the doctor understands. Nurses and doctors must be able to read and write medical forms to understand patient histories and deliver better care.
  • Lack of Proper Emphasis: As the first to speak to patients during visits, nurses should be able to communicate patient priorities to doctors. Nurses must clearly communicate the problem to the doctor. Neglect can be a significant issue in healthcare, as patients may not receive the necessary care if their needs are not prioritized.
  • Increased Wait Times: Poor documentation and a lack of empathy can cause longer wait times in healthcare. Poor communication between staff can worsen the process, leading to delayed appointments. Other factors, such as lateness or provider overbooking, can also contribute to longer wait times. Addressing these issues can be achieved through new policies.
  • Less Patient Satisfaction: Poor communication can lead to decreased patient satisfaction. Long wait times or poor care can cause delays in treatment, dissatisfaction, and a decision not to return. Improving communication is essential for maintaining a positive patient experience.
  • Staff Conflicts: Inadequate communication can lead to staff conflicts. To prevent escalation, maintain strong communication, and create a positive environment where everyone feels comfortable discussing specific topics. Encourage open communication to address concerns and questions.
  • Hierarchy Issues: Take notes to avoid misunderstandings and ensure everyone is on the same page. All positions are essential; hierarchy problems can lead to communication issues and poor patient care. Encourage everyone to ask questions and seek assistance, ensuring the team provides the best possible care.

Between Providers and Patients

Patients and providers are another source of poor communication in healthcare. Providers will be unable to help patients if they cannot express their difficulties and needs. However, it is also your responsibility as a provider to allow your patients to speak for themselves. Allow them to express all their thoughts and feelings about their condition. Consider the following risks when you are unable to talk to patients:

  • Difficult to Understand: Medical professionals should use direct language and clarify medical terminology when addressing patients' questions and concerns. Failure to do so can result in more questions and unsure treatment plans. Ask patients if they understand and explain if not.
  • Giving Improper or Wrong Treatments: Lack of communication is a significant issue in treatment, as it is essential to understand patients' allergies and medications. Patients must be able to describe their medical history and needs. This is common among deaf persons and those who do not speak English. Understanding a patient doesn't require knowing sign language or a second language. But, you must be able to understand your patient.
  • Unclear or Incorrect Instructions: Giving unclear instructions is another significant issue, especially when providing medication. Discuss treatment methods, send home instructions, and provide contact information for additional questions to ensure patients receive the correct dosage.
  • Unnecessary Visits: Unclear instruction during a patient's initial visit can lead to additional visits, potentially wasting time. Listening to patients the first time reduces appointments and allows direct action toward treatment or testing. This means more time with the patient, allowing for better understanding and addressing issues, ultimately improving patient care and minimizing visits.

Between Providers and Insurers

Poor communication between physicians and insurance companies can negatively impact healthcare outcomes. Dealing with insurance providers can be time-consuming, but it's essential for submitting claims for patients. A strong connection with insurance organizations can prevent complications and ensure efficient patient care.

  • Improper Billing - Accurately communicating treatment information can prevent insurance from issuing incorrect charges and confusing patients with hefty medical bills. Medical codes differentiate procedures and treatments. By using a list, you can identify the correct claim, save time and stress, and streamline record-keeping and reporting. This reduces the burden on insurance companies and helps patients avoid confusion.
  • Additional Paperwork - Poor communication with insurance companies can result in increased paperwork. Take your time, double-check information, and consult coworkers if necessary. Send a copy to the insurance provider to avoid making changes later.
  • Ineffective Policies - Clear policies in a company are crucial for effective communication. Employees may struggle to understand others ' methods without a standard operating procedure for each task. Avoid misunderstandings by setting clear regulations and enforcing them.
  • Technical Problems - Technical problems can come from incorrect patient information entry, especially when relying on electronic health records (EHR). Inaccurate health records and inaccurate forms can result from these issues. Rushing form completion can lead to inaccuracies in patient information and file accuracy. Addressing these issues can improve the overall efficiency of your office.
  • Office Overflow - Healthcare office communication issues can cause longer patient wait times. Lack of check-in by receptionists can cause waiting room overflow, confusion, and increased stress. This can lead to rushed patient care, limiting communication and potentially affecting overall patient satisfaction.
  • Overall Pressure - Poor communication in the medical field can cause increased stress, leading to overwork or burnout among staff. This can result in staff leaving practices, creating a cycle difficult to break without rewriting policies and procedures. Addressing this issue is essential for maintaining a positive work environment and patient well-being.

How to Improve Communication in Healthcare

You do not have to suffer due to inadequate communication in healthcare. Recognizing and addressing issues can help prevent minor breakdowns and improve patient care. Instead, you can concentrate on working with patients. If you discover that you or your team don't communicate well, follow these measures:

  • Determine the Problem - Determine the problem's source and improve communication with individuals, whether patients or providers. If the issue persists, change policies or procedures to find a better solution. Address the entire issue, not just parts.
  • Implement Documentation Procedures - Standardize patient complaints and treatment documentation to improve efficiency. Create a list of steps and provide copies for employees to reference, ensuring everyone is on the same page regardless of their role.
  • Pay Attention - Healthcare providers often overlook the importance of patient care, especially for women and minorities. Diversity and inclusion training can help providers understand and address patient concerns. Listening to patients not only improves communication but also saves lives, as it can prevent problems from worsening and becoming untreatable.
  • Hire an Interpreter - Consider hiring an interpreter for non-English speaking patients in hospitals or clinics. Ask staff if they speak a second language to ensure good care. Use an interpreter to communicate with patients or use a phone translation app if an interpreter is unavailable. Remember to follow HIPAA requirements when using translator technology.
  • Team Building - Focus on team building to address communication issues caused by staff disagreements. Allow weekly or monthly group work, such as games or icebreakers, to get to know coworkers. While team building may seem time-consuming, it's essential for effective communication in healthcare.

Evaluating Healthcare Communication

Poor communication in healthcare can be deadly. It can cost you time and money, and it may compromise patient outcomes. It can also lead to misunderstandings and errors in handling protected health information (PHI). Issues such as giving sensitive information to the wrong person, inaccurate documentation, or misinterpreting a patient’s instructions can all compromise HIPAA compliance.

One way to ensure you’re complying with HIPAA is by taking one of our online training courses! Whether you’re a business associate or a healthcare worker, we’re confident we have a program for you. Check out our extensive catalog and enroll today!