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Attorney Explains How New Patient Transfer System May Save Lives

Boston News Health published a story this week that discusses new efforts to curb the problem of medical errors being made during patient transfers. A Chicago medical malpractice attorney understands that it is simply unacceptable for a patient to suffer problematic care because of communication breakdowns between different medical providers. These mistakes are ones that are 100% preventable and should not happen. When they do, medical malpractice lawsuits are often filed to hold those responsible for the consequences of the transfer problem.

As explained in the new story, a few health care organizations are taking positive steps to tackle the problem by using a pilot program that capitalizes on electronic records. The goal is that the care of individuals that are transferred between nursing homes, hospitals, or home care will not falter as a result of the transition. The four month project is funded by a $1.7 million federal grant and will seek to test the benefits of a Universal Transfer Form. The form includes data about the patient’s medication needs and current treatment plans. In addition, each of these forms will come with specific directions explaining how the individual needs to be cared for in the event that the patient becomes incapable of making decision for themselves. This may be particularly important for senior patients who often get transferred to the hospital after suffering a health event that prevents them from communicating with those around them.

It is hoped that medical transfer mistakes will be minimized as this Universal Transfer Form follows patients no matter where they are sent-from facility to facility. After this initial test using paper forms, an electronic Universal Transfer Form will also be used and evaluated. One possible concern is that the electronic form would give trouble to those facilities that currently do not have access to electronic health records. However, this electronic form will actually be completely usable by all facilities, including those without electric records access.

One medical researcher involved in the pilot project explained that, “The beauty of this system is that it leverages information already collected electronically in EHRs and patient assessment tools in order to minimize rework or having patients tell their medical history over and over again.” He went on to explain how the electronic transfer form will also ensure that the necessary information is delivered to new care providers in a timely manner. In the past, even when the right information reached the right doctors, it often did not do so in as efficient a manner as possible or necessary.

Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at Levin and Perconti remains encouraged by this line of research. Far too many individuals experience adverse medical events when moving from different care locations because of slow, inaccurate, or incomplete information being shared from one team of professionals to another. These errors can and should be prevented. Hopefully, this new attempt at curbing the problem is ultimately successful-it could save thousands of individuals the pain and suffering caused by preventable medical mistakes.

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