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Thousands of preventable deaths due to healthcare communication errors

David died after a cardiac arrest at the Royal Bolton Hospital, a death which the coroner concluded was due to ‘an accident caused by neglect’. This tragic incident highlights a broader problem within the healthcare system, where miscommunication has repeatedly led to preventable deaths and serious illnesses.

While these failures are the result of the horrific management of the NHS, the legal community must use its powers through the judiciary to put an end to these alarmingly high incidents, by healthcare professionals and the managers responsible for such woeful neglect of health care to fine and even imprison. their tasks.

David Horsman went into cardiac arrest in a mobile CT scanner on March 28, 2022, after an anaphylactic reaction to a contrast dye used during his scan. The radiographer’s emergency call to the hospital switchboard was mishandled, resulting in the crash team being sent to the wrong location. Despite two more calls, the intensive care team arrived 17 minutes late, leading to David’s death the next day. Coroner John Pollard noted that with good and timely communication, David’s death could have been prevented.

This is not an isolated incident. Healthcare research and reviews have repeatedly shown that poor communication is a major factor in many preventable medical errors. According to the Joint Commission, communication errors accounted for more than 70% of serious adverse health outcomes. Miscommunication can occur at various points in the patient care process, from initial diagnosis to treatment and emergency care.

A study by CRICO Strategies analyzed malpractice cases and found that communication errors were a factor in 30% of cases, resulting in 1,744 deaths and $1.7 billion in malpractice claims over a five-year period. Another study from Johns Hopkins estimated that medical errors, including those related to communication errors, are the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 250,000 deaths per year.

David’s widow, Jane Horsman, expressed her devastation and disappointment at the Royal Bolton Hospital, saying: “When I heard about the circumstances surrounding David’s death, the failings at the Royal Bolton Hospital have made me sick. I expected David would be safe and that he would do so.” trusted that the hospital staff would take good care of him if something went wrong, but the hospital failed David and his family.

Stephen Jones of Leigh Day, who represented Jane Horsman, highlighted the avoidability of such tragedies. “Listening to the call recordings played in court and hearing how things went so tragically and unnecessarily wrong was deeply disturbing. The process of calling the crash team was quite simple, but was simply not handled properly.”

This case calls for urgent improvements in communication protocols within healthcare. Hospitals must implement and strictly enforce standardized communication procedures, provide thorough training for staff, and ensure robust systems are in place to prevent such errors. Improving communication can save lives, prevent serious diseases and restore public confidence in health care systems

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