Correcting Miscommunication: Why the Corexcel Medical Terminology Course Can Prevent Serious Problems

At times, the world of medicine can be affected by miscommunication, which in turn has proven to be detrimental to some patients and even fatal to others. This problem is propagated by way of poorly inscribed and mistakenly interpreted medical abbreviations that lead to misdiagnoses, inaccurate prescriptions and incorrect administration of medical dosages.

Because the expanding world of medicine has become very compartmentalized with new fields of study and specialization, many of the abbreviations and acronyms do not translate from one field to another, from one department to another and from one practitioner to another.

The Corexcel Online Medical Terminology Course is designed to update those currently active in a medical vocation and to prepare future medical professionals to use medical terminology correctly and to be aware of the top abbreviations that are misused — the exact acronyms and abbreviations that, when misused, result in negative outcomes.

The Usual Suspects

In 2004, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety issued a “Do Not Use” list comprised of the most commonly miswritten and misinterpreted medical abbreviations. At the top of this docket sits the letter “U” which is commonly used to represent “units” yet is frequently mistaken for the number “0.”

An example: In the instance of a doctor prescribing “10U” meaning that the patient should take 10 units per medication interval, the typical misreading would be “100.”This would put the patient in danger of taking a dose that is tenfold the prescribed amount. In the instance of a highly toxic painkiller such as Vicodin or Oxycodone, the results could be lethal.

An Increase in Oversight

As benign as it may seem at face value, unreadable abbreviations and misused acronyms can result in unfortunate outcomes. According to the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, it is estimated that clerical medication errors account for some 7,000 deaths per year, 81% of the mistakes occurring during the prescribing stage of the medical process.

The source above also reports that doctors are responsible for 78.5% of abbreviation errors, with nurses sharing 15.1% of the burden while a mere 6.4% of inaccuracies were penned by pharmaceutical or other staff.

Since doctors have been typecast as scrawlers of hieroglyphics, it may seem that only the most seasoned of nurses can translate. Although these miscommunications are often not the fault of the caregiver, there are cases wherein a fairly routine medical procedure became an emergency situation due to misread abbreviations or poor penmanship. Here are three such instances:

• A doctor prescribed a hydromorphone epidural for a patient, writing the script as “2 µg/mL.” It was then misunderstood by the pharmacist who labeled and prepared the patient’s prescription as “2 mg/mL.” The pattern continued with the attending nurse, who misread the label and subsequently administered a dose with a 1,000-fold variance.

The patient soon experienced difficulty breathing, was intubated and placed on mechanical ventilation along with being given additional pharmacology and chest compressions to mitigate a diminishing cardiac function. The epidural was removed and naloxone was used to reverse the toxic effects.

• An acyclovir treatment was ordered for a 62-year-old patient on hemodialysis. The order read “acyclovir (unknown dose) with HD.” The practitioner who read the order interpreted the “HD” abbreviation as TID — meaning three times daily.

Acyclovir is given intravenously, and then only once daily after hemodialysis taking into consideration the patient’s renal impairment immediately after dialysis. In this case, the patient received three doses over a two-day stretch, resulting in mental deterioration and subsequent death.

• Mid-sternal chest pain in a 53-year-old patient was diagnosed as a gastrointestinal malady. As a result of this assessment, an “MDX/GI” cocktail was prescribed — which is a compound consisting of Xylocaine® (lidocaine), Mylanta® (aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, and simethicone) and diclomine.

The patient developed labored breathing followed by respiratory distress, requiring an administration of epinephrine to reverse the symptoms. Although the patient’s allergy to lidocaine was documented, the attending physician and nursing staff were unaware that lidocaine is a key ingredient in the MDX/GI cocktail.

The danger of this abbreviation lies in its ambiguity. Although the “X” stands for lidocaine, it refers to the brand name of the drug (Xylocaine®) rather than the drug itself. Furthermore, the symbol “X” as an abbreviation has nearly a dozen different meanings in the medical vernacular.*

No matter the outcome, each case strongly supports the critical need for an ongoing education in medical terminology and a system that strives toward consistency in usage of medical abbreviations.

Not-so-straightforward solutions

Consider the remaining 6,997 cases involving similar situations that were propagated by abbreviations that were either misinterpreted or poorly written. The obvious solution would seem to be to discourage the use of the medical terms most frequently responsible for patient harm, yet doing so in a cohesive way across the breadth of all medical professions has proven to be very difficult.

Because not all practitioners have or are required to comply with a universal set of guidelines where medical abbreviations are concerned, the responsibility by default in affecting clear communication, then falls upon the shoulders of the individual medical practitioner.

Corexcel’s Online Medical Terminology Course empowers aspiring and practicing medical professionals to take control of their role in the chain of communication, be it as attending physician, nurse, pharmacist or other vocation within the medical community.

Supporting Medical Professionals and Patient Safety

In the wake of rapid medical advancement, diversification of specialties and development of new fields of study, medical professionals can equip themselves with a comprehensive understanding of terminology, abbreviations and the most commonly miswritten and misinterpreted of both. By doing so, the results of poor communication can be diminished.

If you’re looking to strengthen and improve your communication in the medical field, contact Corexcel to learn more about our online medical terminology course. The more you learn about using and identifying the proper medical terms, the more effective and accurate you will be in preventing harm on future patients.

 

*Brunetti, Luigi, John P. Santell, and Rodney W. Hicks. “The Impact of Abbreviations on Patient Safey.” The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety 33.9 (2007): 576-80. Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Sept.-Oct. 2007. Web. May 2017.

Avoid 5 Management Mistakes DiSC® Profile Webinar Recap

Whether you are a veteran or new to the managing scene, anyone that deals with running a team know that managing people is no simple task. More than 60% of new managers fail within the first year and over 70% report they do not get what they need to be successful in their role.

This is not only stressful for the managers but the employees as well. Bad management can cause employees to feel under-appreciated, frustrated and stressed out, leaving them uninterested in their work and looking for a way out.

Our May webinar, “DiSC Profile: Avoid 5 Management Mistakes,” outlined five classic management errors to avoid, and detailed new skills you can immediately implement to improve your company culture and increase retention.

DiSC Profiles offer strategies to understand your own management style, your teammates’ personalities and finally how you can use this information to better motivate and develop your team.

Introduction to the Five Fatal Management Mistakes

1. Not Knowing Yourself

It may sound obvious but all too many managers don’t have a firm idea of their own management style. The first step to being an effective leader is developing an understanding of your own personal motivations as well as individual strengths and weaknesses.

What kind of manager are you? There isn’t one personality mold that fits all managers. What works for the fast-paced and strong willed manager might not work for the analytical and systematic. Learn which of these four DiSC profiles most closely aligns with you and how your management style fits in your team.

2. Misunderstanding Others Priorities and Abilities

When you look at your team what do you see? If you are honest, you have probably neatly categorized and labeled them in your head. But do you really understand your team members on a fundamental level or have you sold some people short? Don’t fall into the trap of defining someone by what you believe they can do. Learn what makes them tick and what motivates them so you can support them in reaching their full potential.

Everyone on your team has different personalities, working styles, and needs. As a manager, it’s your job to work with those differences. Some people may need more encouragement, some more direction, while others may need a greater challenge. By better understanding their personalities you will be able to guide instead of just define them.

3. Giving Unclear, Ambiguous Direction

Unclear direction can be a large stumbling block when it comes to how your team performs. Your team wants to succeed and to deliver what is expected. Though problems can arise when there is a disconnect between your expectations and what your team thinks you expect. Each team member will process and take direction differently. A key factor in their performance is their individual personality style.

The team member with a D (Dominance) personality, for example, is driven, works fast and asks a lot of questions, which can be perceived as challenging. How do you direct and delegate this team member? Well to answer that question you need to understand what motivates them.

A person with a D-personality is highly result-oriented, so when giving direction it is best to show them the “big picture” purpose of a task as well the potential successful outcomes.

If they have proven themselves in the past, show them that you respect their abilities. Give them a little more autonomy, but make sure you see eye-to-eye on the goal of the assignment and the consequences of shortcuts.

4. Failing to Address Basic Needs and Preferences

Harmony, acceptance, action, facts…. What if people had their needs written all over them? It sure would make it easier to give people the support they needed in the workplace. As that is not the case, many managers are left at a loss when it comes to how to best support their team members. With DiSC profiles, managers can better understand what their team members need to thrive.

For example, a team member with an S (Steadiness) personality, needs harmony and stability, and conversely, fears rapid change and letting people down. For this particular style, being in chaotic situations, or being forced to improvise or deal with cold or argumentative people is stressful and demotivating.

How can we go about creating a motivational atmosphere for this personality? Make sure they have ample time to achieve results, even if it means slowing your pace down a bit. Additionally, be sure you provide the structure and security needed for her to feel comfortable and when changes are coming make sure you plan ahead to be able to give her plenty of warning.

Other personalities will have varying needs, but understanding these needs is the first step in creating a supportive environment and a harmonious workplace.

5. Delivering Inappropriate Unbalanced Feedback

Make sure your feedback counts! As you begin to develop a better appreciation of the different working styles, you’ll learn how to approach them individually. Listening, encouraging and helping particular styles are just some of the ways you can deliver the proper response they need to help motivate them.

Once you have a thorough understanding of your team member’s value in the workplace, you can respond with constructive feedback that they can successfully utilize to achieve their goals.

Our webinar provided valuable information on:

  • How to identify your own management style
  • How DiSC styles impact management behavior
  • Ways DiSC helps you delegate, motivate and develop others
  • How the group’s culture can impact employee relations and retention

DiSC is about helping you as a manager develop a better understanding of yourself and your team so you can ultimately help them unlock their potential.

Application

If you see yourself falling into these patterns of mistakes or simply want to become a better manager, applying DiSC Profiles can help get you started on the road to success.

It starts with understanding who you are as a manager and how you can learn to better support your team among the different working styles. Everything DiSC Management is the ideal tool to help improve your management skills and ultimately, your company culture.

Can you benefit from using the research-validated online profile assessments like DiSC? Corexcel can provide the tools and training you need to use for creating a more cohesive workplace. For a recording of this webinar or to get additional information on Everything DiSC Management or other Wiley DiSC profiles, Contact us to learn more about getting started on your DiSC Profile journey today.

“DiSC” is a registered trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.