Patients die when doctors don’t talk to one another

Poor communication in medicine can kill.

I wrote a piece a few years ago on the issue (What we have in health care today is a failure to communicate), and fellow primary care doctor Rob Lamberts revisits the topic in a recent post.

In fact, he goes one further, saying not only does it cost money, “It kills. Patients have died because of this.”

Hospitals and emergency rooms rarely have access to primary care records, and in turn, primary care offices usually have trouble receiving discharge summaries from inpatient admissions. This leads to fragmented care, repeated tests, and gaps in the patient record.

Dr. Rob points out a strange irony, saying, “we live in a time where communication is easier than ever before and when information is easily accessed. Through my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, I have made friends, have renewed friendships, and have communicated my thoughts to an enormous number of people.”

His solution? Re-align the incentives, and remove the obstacles to open health communication. Not only encourage doctors to use well-designed digital systems, remove the inane privacy laws that impede collaborative sharing of health information, and provide the proper incentives for physicians to promote better communication with each other.

Makes sense to me.