Analysing communication errors in an air medical transport service

Auckland HEMS

A recent study published in the May-June 2013 edition of Air Medical Journal analyzed a randomly selected group of quality assurance reports looking for communication errors. Quality assurance reports examined had been submitted in circumstances of issues, adverse events, or simply high risk activities (for example patient requiring intubation, or scene times exceeding 20 minutes)

Of 278 reports analysed, 58 (21%) were found to involve communication errors. Communication errors were categorised according to Clark’s Communication Level Hierarchy:

Level 1: CHANNEL – establishing a means of communication between people – e.g verbal communication, digital communication

Level 2: SIGNAL – the transmitted data, for example the sound in a verbal communication or the text in a digital communication

Level 3: INTENTION – the semantic meaning derived from the content within the data

Level 4: CONVERSATION – the joint activitiy that is understood between people communication (e.g. shared mental model)

Of 65 communication…

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