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Importance of effective communication in healthcare

Updated April 17, 2017

Effective communication is an important part of all of our lives, but never so much as when we're seeing a doctor. Effective communication in health care is critical for the correct diagnosis, correct care, effective treatment, legal processes and medical progress.

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Correct Diagnosis

Effective communication in the health care industry is incredibly important in aiding in the correct diagnosis of an individual's condition. It is very important that both the health care providers and the patient are very clear in what they say to one another. If the patient is unclear, inconsistent or limited in the information he provides regarding his symptoms and past experiences, the diagnosis the health care providers comes up with may be inaccurate, leading to mistreatment of the condition.


It is very important that the patient is very clear in communicating her medical history to health care professionals. Drug allergies, medical conditions, previous surgeries and illnesses can provide critical information to doctors and nurses while the patient is in the hospital. Failure to effectively communicate these parts of a medical history can put a patient's life at risk. For example, failure to mention an allergy to penicillin can cause a patient to go into anyphylactic shock.


Communication is a very crucial part of the treatment process. Health care professionals must effectively communicate instructions for medication and home treatment to the patient. A misunderstanding could result in an overdose or the worsening of the condition. Patients must ask questions about their treatment if they are unclear on the instructions.

Legal Processes

Effective communication is important for legal issues pertaining to treatment. A thorough understanding of diagnoses and treatments must be established before a health care professional can proceed. Documentation of all communications can become important should something go wrong. Documentation of the communication that has taken place can provide a defence for the hospital, or ammunition for the plaintiff.

Medical Progress

Communication is critical for advancing medical progress. Information gathered at a hospital or doctor's office can help track things like outbreaks of the flu or other communicable diseases. Information can inform health care providers on the need to stockpile certain medications, ultimately saving lives.

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About the Author

Lauren Nelson

Lauren Nelson was a nationally recognized public speaker and debater for eight years and has three years of contracted technical writing under her belt. Nelson is a graduate of Western Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Arts in corporate and organizational communication and is currently serving as Director of Communications for Attain Capital Management.

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