The Math Works: Reduce Communication-Related Medical Errors by Investing Upfront

The Math Works: Reduce Communication-Related Medical Errors by Investing Upfront

The Math Works: Reduce Communication-Related Medical Errors by Investing Upfront

By: Bill Holahan, JD, and Anne McIntosh, PhD

Hospitals continue to be pressured to reduce costs while improving healthcare. The Communicator surgical face mask is an FDA-approved disposable consumable and is changing the face of healthcare in intricate ways. Hospitals want to invest to:

    • Reduce communication-related medical errors
    • Improve hospitals’ compliance with federal laws
    • Improve patient outcomes
    • Improve patient satisfaction
    • Reduce lawsuit and settlement payouts
    • Facilitate healthier profit margins.

Although there are less expensive masks available, the premium Communicator™ mask is worth the investment because hospitals save financial resources over the long-run. The Communicator™ masks provide clearer communication for a safer and less stressful environment.

Addressing Communication-Related Medical Errors

Existing conventional masks limit the ability to see medical providers’ facial expressions and emotions.

SOLUTION: The Communicator mask.

Safe’N’Clear’s mask increases patient satisfaction, improves trust, reduces stress and tension, and positively impacts the quality of healthcare the patient receives.

The transparency piece of the Safe’N’Clear Communicator™ modernizes the conventional mask by incorporating new benefits, such as:

  1.  Providing an auxiliary aid to assist hospitals to meet “Effective Communication” of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and “Primary Consideration” of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
  2. Providing a higher quality of care to patients, especially children who may be frightened of hospital medical personnel, or geriatrics who are hard of hearing and outside of their familiar settings which can be disorienting.
  3. Aiding in specific procedures that are critical for communication to reduce liability in medical errors.
Powerful Tool for Legal Counsel, Risk Management, and Compliance Officers

Conventional masks, due to their design, create communication risks by removing non-verbal facial expressions and muffling speech. The Communicator is a robust tool that hospitals can use to reduce communication breakdowns in acute care settings and reduce costly communication-related medical malpractice lawsuits between provider and patient. People “read facial expressions” to understand what others mean when they speak. By adopting the Communicator™ mask to facilitate visible non-verbal communication, hospital general counsel, risk management, and compliance officers can minimizes legal fees and medical malpractice insurance premiums.

 “Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures” demonstrates that for the years 2009 to 2013, a breakdown in communication or communication failures by medical providers was linked to nearly 1,744 deaths and $1.7 billion in medical malpractice costs incurred by medical providers. Many of these deaths and much of the associated cost could have been prevented by adopting products that promote clearer communication, instead of fostering miscommunication. This study examined more than 23,000 cases of medical malpractice and found nearly 30% of the studied cases occurred as a result of communication breakdowns. Ultimately, more than 7,000 cases of miscommunication led to errors by medical providers that resulted in harm to their patients, which could have been prevented with clearer, more visible communication.

These numbers highlight the opportunity that Safe‘N’Clear Communicator masks present to address hospitals’ medical malpractice claims. If the Communicator™ mask can work to reduce a communication failure between a provider and their patient in the operating room, or between a provider and another provider, and possibly save a human life, the cost of the Communicator™ is a good value from a legal and risk management perspective. Clearer communication will positively impact all stakeholders in the healthcare field when costly malpractice suits can be avoided.

While overall, the price of The Communicator™ is higher than most of the non-transparent competition, the only other clear mask-type options, such as clear shields, are much more expensive and do not have the added values that The Communicator brings to the hospital and patients.

The Costs Of Medical Malpractice

2010 Medical Cost ChartAs the two figures detail, defensive medicine accounts for a huge portion of healthcare costs. Lowering defensive medicine costs can decrease expenses associated with overall healthcare. The Communicator™ can help lower the cost of malpractice by reducing communication-based malpractice suits.

Communication Related Malpractice Cases Are More Expensive

As indicated here, malpractice cases involving miscommunication have a higher chance of payout and payout more dollars, on average. In fact, malpractice cases alleging provider-to-provider miscommunication result in a payout 120k greater and 18% more often than the average medical malpractice claim.

The Monetary Effects of Miscommunication in Hospitals

The average malpractice costs for the average hospital is roughly $3 million annually. The Communicator™ could help save this money. Though few studies are publicly available, those that have been published found malpractice costs ranging from 2%-11% of all hospital-spending.


If the Communicator™ can reduce communication-based malpractice 25%, hospitals would ultimately break even in value buying The Communicator™ at a price of $4.39 per mask, due to a reduction in healthcare costs. This $4.39 is calculated as a reduction of the $3 million in communication-related malpractice costs.

Safe’N’Clear welcomes hospitals to participate in deeper studies to quantify exactly how much the hospital saves and to quantify the increase in patient satisfaction attributed to the hospitals switching to modern technology in mask protection.

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