A recent Joint Commission study to determine what proportion of medical malpractice claims involve communication failure, identified “miscommunication” as a leading cause of sentinel events, the most serious adverse events. 

The study found that communication failures were involved in a significant proportion of medical malpractice claims:

  • The most common type of communication failure was between providers and patients, followed by providers and other providers. 
  • The majority of communication failures occurred in outpatient settings, such as offices or clinics. 
  • The most common type of miscommunication was related to diagnosis, followed by treatment options and prognosis. 
  • The study also found that communication failures were associated with significant costs, including medical expenses, lost productivity, and legal fees.