'Poor communication prevents hospital patients receiving best care'
David Rose, Health Correspondent
Thousands of patients dying in hospital are not receiving the care they deserve because of poor communication between medical staff, an official report concludes.
Almost 40 per cent of patients received “less than good care”, according to Caring to the End?, a study of 3,135 patients of all ages who died within four days of entering hospital between October 2006 and March 2007. Information was passed on properly in only a quarter of cases when one medical shift took over from another, the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death found.
Dr David Mason, a consultant anaesthetist and one of the authors of the report, said: “We identified communication between and within clinical teams as a particular problem.”
In 53 per cent of cases there was an apparent lack of input from senior doctors “leading to delays in giving patients timely and appropriate care”, and 30 per cent of patients were not seen by a senior consultant within the recommended 12 hours of admission.
About 60 per cent of deaths in England occur in hospital, although two thirds of patients would rather die at home.
Katherine Murphy, the director of the Patients Association, said: “These findings run the risk of undermining basic confidence in the NHS. For four out of ten patients not to get high-quality care is appalling.”
The Department of Health said that the study predated the start of its end-of-life care strategy, which is supported by £286 million ($474,474,000) over two years.