MLMIC’s most recent Case Review (Winter 2016) contains a perspective on a case with both a catastrophic outcome and serious legal and risk management deficits. The case study – involving paralysis from spinal surgery – highlights not only clear and continuous lack of communication between a variety of providers but also several failures of documentation.
Ineffective communication and transfer of patient information has been associated with medical errors, patient harm and patient dissatisfaction.
Dental practices should develop protocols for tracking consultations, including patient compliance, and documenting conversations between referring and consulting dentists. In addition, patients’ dental records should reflect referral compliance (or non-compliance) and include related correspondence.
Effective communication is imperative in ensuring patient safety, especially during patient handoffs.