Culture of Silence and Communcation Breakdowns Plaguing Patient Care, According to New Study

We reported recently on a recent study that showed a lack of communication between ER doctors and primary care physicians may be compromising effective care.  Now, a new survey of 6,500 nurses shows that medical providers are not speaking up to colleagues when they see warning signs of potential problems.  According to the study, more than 85 percent of respondents said safety tools – such as hand-off protocols and surgical checklists – helped them identify a problem that might otherwise have gone undetected.  However, 58% admitted that even though they recognized the warning, they failed to speak up and address the problem with other workers.  The nurses also reported witnessing procedural shortcuts, colleague incompetence and disrespect among workers but rarely discussing it among fellow employees.  This troubling research shows that while hospitals are doing a better job of providing the tools necessary to identify problems, a lack of communication among caregivers and a general culture of silence in hospitals are greatly undermining patient safety.


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