NHS Resolution. Clinical negligence claims in emergency departments in England. Report 2 of 3: Missed fractures. 2022a. (accessed 13 October 2022)

NHS Resolution. Clinical negligence claims in emergency departments in England. Report 3 of 3: Hospital acquired pressure ulcers and falls. 2022b. (accessed 13 October 2022)

Avoiding litigation and complaints through good communication practices

27 October 2022
Volume 31 · Issue 19


John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, discusses some recent patient safety reports with a focus on good communication

There is a direct correlation between poor communication practices and healthcare litigation or complaints. This can be seen in countless reports published over the years. Many reports have emphasised the need for health professionals to view record keeping as an important professional skill and not something to be fitted in as an afterthought in a fast-paced clinical environment. If corners are cut in documentation and in communicating properly, at handover for example, then this markedly increases the chances of an adverse event occurring and a resulting complaint.

I have said before that if something is not written then a judge in a court may well take the view that it never happened. Your credibility as a witness often relies on your records on the day. In a very real sense, I am stating the obvious about the need for good documentation and communication practices. It is self-evident that we all need to do these things properly as a matter of sound common-sense. Unfortunately, this needs stating repeatedly, as the issue persists in the NHS. When we look at what went wrong in a patient safety or clinical negligence case, poor record keeping, documentation or communication can often be seen as a leading cause or indeed the sole cause of the problem.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content