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Can better communication reduce medical errors?

Doctor errors are a big problem in the medical system, both in Ohio and throughout the United States. While distraction, inattention and busyness are all major contributing factors, many misdiagnoses and other errors can be traced back to poor communication between doctors and their patients.

The Cleveland Clinic is working on a program to address this issue. They have developed an education program that teaches medical students and practicing physicians better strategies for communicating with their patients. The program uses a number of techniques, including role-playing, to improve listening skills. The program also teaches doctors how to empathize and connect with their patients.

The program focuses on helping doctors better navigate tricky situations. For example, doctors might struggle when discussing a condition that has no good cure, or when trying to develop a new treatment plan for a patient who has risk factors for painkiller abuse.

Doctors in the program are also being trained to allow patients to talk more. This sort of uninterrupted recounting can allow doctors to identify symptoms they might not have otherwise thought to ask about.

Hopefully, this training will go a long way toward improving relationships and reducing errors. However, nothing can completely safeguard against medical mistakes. When errors happen, it is important for injured patients to stand up for their rights.

Ohio law allows patients (or their families) to file medical malpractice lawsuits whenever an injury or death is caused by medical negligence. These lawsuits can provide compensation for losses including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Source: Crain's Cleveland Business, "Say what? Doctors work harder at listening to patients," Scott Suttell, April 9, 2012.

For more information about Ohio medical malpractice lawsuits, please visit our website.

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