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Hospitals implement new communication systems to prevent medical errors

A Wall Street Journal article by Laura Landro, on Jun 28, 2006 entitled “The Informed Patient: Hospitals Combat Errors At the ‘Hand-Off'” discusses communication difficulties at hospitals. Due to growing concern that communication problems are the largest source of medical errors, hospitals have implemented communication improvement programs to deter the problems. Specifically, problems occur during shift changes when the new staff is not apprised of a patient’s situation.

Common types of errors that result from these shift-change communication difficulties are giving a patient the wrong medication or reviving a patient who has a “do not resuscitate” order.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has begun requiring hospitals to establish procedures that address this “hand-off” communication.