A medical student tells a story of how in his first week of rotation in the Obstetric and Gynecology Unit, they were faced with what looked like a difficult delivery. At the time, the interns, residents and students did not realize there was a significant risk to the health of the mom and baby until the senior obstetrician came storming in and barking orders, fuming for not being called ahead of time.
The medical student stepped aside and the obstetrician and the resident delivered the baby. Once the doctor had left, the resident had instructed the medical student to deliver the placenta, something that he had never done The cord was accidentally torn by the medical student, making the delivery of the placenta extremely difficult and causing dangerous bleeding for the mother.
Medical students, residents and interns are often faced with doing what is asked of them with no questions, or asking questions and coming off as an annoyance and the ‘butt’ of all jokes in the future. When it comes to patient safety, there has to be a clear line of communication. You can be prepared with all the safety knowledge and understanding, but if there is poor communication between the students, staff and superiors, patients suffer. When one of the team members feels like they cannot speak up, it could lead to many different dangers.
Poor communication can lead to many mistakes. If the nurse or resident communicates the wrong symptoms to the doctor and the doctor prescribes the wrong medication, it can lead to serious harm for the patient. If the medical students, nurses, and residents feel they cannot ask for clarification from the senior physician, this also could lead to harm for the patient.
These are examples of hospital system failures that need to be changed.