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Failure to link patient records puts lives at risk, study shows

A study by two Sydney universities has linked communication failures, such as medical information being overlooked or ignored, to the deaths of patients in residential care facilities for the disabled.

Researchers analysed 99 case studies taken from eight reports by the New South Wales Ombudsman’s office on deaths that occurred between 2005 and 2015. Poor communication was linked to risk of death in 47 per cent of cases, and only 12 per cent met “best practice” criteria for sharing patient information.

The study was led by Mary Dahm from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University; and Bronwyn Hemsley, head of speech pathology at University of Technology Sydney. The results are published in the Journal of Patient Safety. 

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