Communication is an essential component of safe and reliable medical care. At the same time, it frequently poses a threat to patient safety. In fact, communication breakdowns have been identified as the root cause of a large majority of sentinel events. Part of the problem lies in the system; health care often takes place under hectic stress and time pressure, generating barriers to effective communication. However, despite recent human factors interventions, the number of adverse events remains high, calling for communication skill enhancements. There are seven concrete roles of communication in promoting patient safety. Patient safety communication is urgent, multileveled, multichanneled, multicontextual, multifunctional, multidimensional, and multifaceted.

Urgent. The Joint Commission has consistently identified miscommunication as a root cause of at least two-thirds of sentinel events ...

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