Just like in any other profession, correct and concise communication is vital amongst healthcare workers in Providence. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare technicians are relied upon to work together to execute a patient's plan of care. Yet they also often work in a very fast-paced, high-stress environment where split-second decisions have to be made and certain situations don't allow for in-depth conversation. As such, there are times when communication does break down, leading to incorrect diagnoses, medication errors, and other mistakes that may have tragic consequences.
Such a breakdown in communication was recently cited by a federal audit as a contributing factor in the death of a patient at a California medical center. The man died during a routine transfer from the emergency department to the center's cardiac unit. Aside from complaining of shortness of breath, the man was also found to have elevated potassium levels. The attending physician had ordered three medications to address the patient's elevated potassium, but the staff member charged with administering them reportedly did not fully read the order and only gave him one of the recommended drugs. It's believed that this wrong dosage was among the reasons why the patient suddenly died during the transfer.