Editorials

Communication among health professionals

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7132.642 (Published 28 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:642

Human factors engineering can help make sense of the chaos Information in practice p 673

  1. John Gosbee, Director (gosbee@kcms.msu.edu)www.kcms.msu.edu/cami/camihome.html
  1. Center for Applied Medical Informatics, Michigan State University Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies, 1000 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA

    Last year, my father was told by his family doctor that the cardiologist had found aortic stenosis during a diagnostic evaluation for hypertension. Some time later it transpired that the specialist's diagnosis had been wrongly transmitted. Instead of a major valve defect, my father actually had atherosclerosis, a much more benign diagnosis. The kind of culture that makes this sort of unfortunate miscommunication possible is examined in a paper in this week's BMJ and a recently published government report. 1 2 Their conclusions will come as no surprise to many BMJ readers—that communication between health professionals is a mess.

    Both sets of authors offer a series of insightful recommendations on what might be done to improve things. However, there is also a pressing need to define the role of applied research in this area and to accept that …

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