Lack of communication or poor communication between doctors and their patients is problematic in a number of ways. It is particularly problematic, though, when the communication failure concerns serious medical or surgical errors. Lack of communication is often the result of the provider’s fear of liability, but lack of communication often results in more willingness to litigate.
This is one reason for the push to increase transparency between patients and their providers. The trend of increasing transparency is one that has even expanded to the federal level, with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality now promoting new guidelines for hospitals to adopt. The guidelines are premised on saving hospitals money as a result of reducing medical malpractice litigation.
The program, known as Communication and Optimal Resolution (Candor for short), has federal funding behind it and has been tested at a number of hospitals. The program prescribes the communication of error to the patient and their families within one hour of their occurrence. Providers are advised to keep close contact with patients and their families during the investigation, which is supposed to be completed within a month or two, and to interview them about the occurred. Billing is also placed on hold during an investigation. At the end of the process, hospital staff is supposed to discuss future prevention of such incidents to the patient.
In cases where it is determined that the hospital or physician was negligent, the program prescribes negotiation of a compensation agreement. In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic and how a patient can deal with the issue of poor communication in court.