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Communication may be to blame for some medical errors

Although a doctor’s duty of care to a patient may begin with a diagnosis, it certainly doesn’t end there. At every point in treatment, a patient should understand the potential benefits and risks associated with each procedure or medication. A patient also deserves to be informed of his or her status in follow-up meetings after treatments.

Under many current health care models, a team of professionals might deliver a patient’s care. Yet even in a team approach, a patient deserves to have proper communication about important developments in his or her treatment plan. Unfortunately, a patient’s care might be compromised when multiple medical professionals shift accountability for their duty of providing communication and professional care.

A recent article suggests that the current model of American health care favors administering tests and medication — often involving multiple medical professionals and a fee-for-service scheme — instead of wellness. The approach might be at its most ineffective when treating patients with chronic health issues or illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

Each year, almost 18 percent of the American gross domestic product is spent on health care. True, the baby boomers are aging. Yet a recent report indicates that about 67 percent of that health care spending is by patients under the age of 65 who have chronic conditions. Among all ages, the percentage of spending by patients with chronic illnesses is about 84 percent of total costs.

If a patient were to receive consistent, long-term oversight from a primary physician, the opportunities for wellness and meaningful communication might improve. If communication errors do occur, however, an attorney that specializes in medical malpractice might be able to analyze how that negligence affected a patient’s quality of medical care.

Source:, “What makes U.S. health care so overpriced? It’s not what you think,” Maggie Fox, Nov. 12, 2013