The Joint Commission, a nearly 100 year old hospital standards and oversight organization, has indicated that nearly 80% of serious medical errors and medical mistakes are caused by poor communication between heath care providers or healthcare teams, especially when a patient is transferred from one facility to another.

Specialization is a fact of life and anyone with a serious medical condition will likely be treated by several medical specialists, sometimes in different hospitals.  Many doctors and nurses rely on specialists to give them the results of diagnostic tests - MRIs, CT scans, lab tests, etc.

Many communication errors that end up as medical malpractice can be avoided by common sense - telling the patient their diagnosis, teh follow up care and tests they need, the medical specialists they need to see, etc.  And having the specialist call the referring doctor if he diagnoses a serious or life threatening condition, like a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot.  

Read an example of poor communication between doctors - and preventable medical errors - that led to a tragic result in one of our cases

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