The Most Common Error in the Healthcare Environment

The Most Common Error in the Healthcare Environment

The Most Common Error in the Healthcare Environment. Most people believe that the healthcare environment is the safest place, which is not the case. While healthcare personnel works to ensure people have long healthy lives, errors are inevitable. Patients can avoid treatment or miss diagnosis and follow-ups after treatment, whereas medical personnel can make surgical errors and wrong diagnoses. Hospital errors occur more often than they should, leading to health complications or even death. To make the healthcare environment a safe place, all parties must identify the errors and work towards preventing them, which may reduce morbidity and mortality.

Miscommunication is the most common error in the healthcare environment, and it occurs between doctors, nurses, and patients. Among the healthcare personnel, miscommunication occurs in several areas; for example, during shift changes. Pilcher et al. (2022) state that effective communication and proper handover reduce medical errors, which ensures patient safety. Additionally, the language barrier in health centers leads to miscommunication during treatment and diagnosis. A case study by Qanbar and Saqer (2019) shows a 28-year-old man from Pakistan, who spoke Urdu, and a doctor who did not fully understand the language. Due to the lack of understanding, the doctor misdiagnosed the patient. Still, a nurse cleared the situation before any harm occurred (P. 34). The case study shows how a language barrier can cause miscommunication, hence negatively affecting the patients’ safety. A lack of communication may also occur when healthcare personnel make errors and fail to report them to avoid punishment; failure to report errors may cause serious harm to the patient. Effective communication in the healthcare environment is vital because it ensures patients’ safety.


adverse drug events and improper transfusions, misdiagnosis, under and over-treatment, surgical injuries and wrong-site surgery

Although communication errors are inevitable, preventing them can happen in various ways. Firstly, during shift handovers, one should provide a summary of all patients, laboratory copies, and follow-ups. Secondly, all medical centers should work towards introducing google translates and interpreters; in the absence of interpreters, using questionnaires or communication boards may help. In the above case study, since the interpreter was not present, using a communication board could have helped avoid miscommunication between the doctor and the patient. Likewise, both parties should be responsible and ensure they understand each other (p.4). Lastly, team training can promote effective communication. Wang et al. (2018) state that training the team on improving communication may enhance patient care safety. The healthcare leaders should also train the team on accountability for any errors. According to Rodziewicz et al. (2022), everyone should take responsibility for their mistakes to avoid harming the patient. During training, the healthcare team should get guidance on identifying errors. Hence, healthcare personnel must work together to prevent miscommunications, as it will ensure patient safety.

While most people consider the healthcare environment the safest place, certain errors make it unsafe for patients. Miscommunication is a major reason for errors in the healthcare environment, and it involves both the healthcare personnel and the patient making mistakes. Improper communication happens in cases of poor shift handover, language barrier, and fear of punishment. To prevent such cases, medical facilities can use interpreters, introduce handover policies, and create training programs for healthcare personnel. Thus, proper communication can reduce harm to patients and reduce mortality cases.




Pilcher, L., Kurian, M., MacArthur, C., Singh, S., & Manaseki-Holland, S. (2022). Obstetric shift-to-shift handover in Kerala, India: A cross-sectional mixed method study. PLOS ONE, 17(5).

Qanbar, A. W. & Saqer, A. O. (2019). Language Miscommunication in the Healthcare Sector: A Case Report. Journal of Patient Safety and Quality Improvement, 7(1), 33-34.

Rodziewicz, T. L., Houseman, B., & Hipskind, J. E. (2022). In Statpearls (internet). Medical error reduction and prevention. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.

Wang, Y., Wan, Q., Lin, F., Zhou, W., & Shang, S. (2018). Interventions to improve communication between nurses and physicians in the intensive care unit: An integrative literature review. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 5(1), 81-88.

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