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Can failure to communicate be a form of medical malpractice?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2023 | Medical Malpractice |

Most people believe that physical harm caused by a negligent medical professional is the only basis for a malpractice claim. For example, a surgeon operating on the wrong patient or body part is likely causing direct physical harm.

While causing immediate physical injuries is generally the simplest form of malpractice to identify, medical negligence can hurt you in other ways. The failure to communicate critical information like test results may also be malpractice if it causes you harm.

How does it happen?

Ethical medical professionals do not intentionally withhold diagnostic information. In most cases, failure to communicate occurs accidentally, but that does not absolve the responsible party. Even accidental negligence that harms patients can qualify as medical malpractice.

Examples of communication failures include the following:

  • Doctor forgetfulness: Health care providers have many duties to contend with and may forget to pass test results on to patients and other professionals.
  • Chaotic environment: There is a risk of documentation becoming switched or intermingled in hectic facilities. This can result in patients remaining uninformed or receiving inaccurate information.
  • Staff errors: Diagnostic information can get lost as it passes from person to person (nurses, technicians, etc.) in a hospital or private practice and never reach the intended recipients.

Recent data suggests that many medical malpractice injuries stem from communication failure. One study found that about 80% of significant medical errors arise from provider miscommunications in patient handovers from one caregiver to another.

Access to accurate and timely information allows you and your providers to make critical medical decisions based on your current known condition. When it is not made available, you may not get the treatment you need in time to make a complete recovery.

A medical malpractice claim under New Jersey law can help you overcome the hardships your injuries may cause while holding the responsible parties to account.