According to J. Michael Horsley, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that communication plays an integral role in the quality and safety of patient care.  In fact, he references a 2003 study by the Joint Commission, a national accrediting body for hospitals, that found that 60 percent of the 2034 medical errors they studied had a breakdown of communication as a basis for the error.


“Hospital employees have been working on their communication skills for some time,” said Horsley.  “In fact, Alabama ranks eighth in the nation when rated by patients on their hospital experience, which includes communication with doctors and nurses.  However, we know there is more work to be done, which is why we’re emphasizing communication in the second phase of our Join the Health Journey state campaign.”


Horsley explained that the campaign is an ongoing effort to focus on things hospitals can do to improve the care they provide and enlist the help of patients and their families.  The first phase focused on infection prevention, and this week’s launch deals with communication.  All of the resources, including short videos, topic-specific flyers and links to other web information are located at  In addition, consumers can find hospital-specific information about infections, quality efforts and the latest scores on the hospital patient experience on the website under “Quality Reports.”


Starting now and throughout the summer, hospital leaders will be encouraging patients to do the following things to help ensure good outcomes:


MAKE A LIST  Often, when patients are in front of their doctor, they forget what they want to say. So before you see your doctor or go to the hospital, make a list of your questions. And just as important, make a list of the current medications you are taking and the dosages and times you take them.


ASK QUESTIONS  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as: “What is this test for?” “How will I feel after the procedure?” or “Why am I taking this medication?” These questions are great clues for your doctor or nurse as to your main health concerns and can lead to improved care.


SHARE INFORMATION  Tell your doctor anything you’ve noticed about yourself that doesn’t feel normal. Make sure the doctor knows about allergies or any conditions that may affect your care.


BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND INSTRUCTIONS  Don’t ever hesitate to ask your doctor, nurse or other caregiver to repeat instructions or to explain further. Better yet, repeat back to the caregiver what you think was said to be sure you are both on the same page.


“We believe that the questions and suggestions of patients and their families can make a big difference in their care, and we’re going to be encouraging them to do more of it,” added Horsley.


The Alabama Hospital Association, based in Montgomery, is a statewide trade organization thatrepresents more than 100 hospitals and numerous other health care providers in their efforts to provide quality health care.