The Cost of Not Addressing the Communication Barriers Faced by Hospitalized Patients Preventable adverse events (AEs) lead to poorer patient outcomes, added patient suffering and dissatisfaction, longer hospital stays, and billions in additional annual health care spending. Patients facing barriers to communication are 3 times more likely to experience a preventable AE than patients who faced no communication barriers. National data on ... Article
Article  |   August 15, 2018
The Cost of Not Addressing the Communication Barriers Faced by Hospitalized Patients
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Richard R. Hurtig
    Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
  • Rebecca M. Alper
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
  • Benjamin Berkowitz
    Byers Center for Biodesign, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
  • Disclosures
    Disclosures ×
  • Financial: Research reported in this article was supported in part by the National Institute of Nursing Research under Awards R43NR016406 and R44NR016406 to Iowa Adaptive Technologies, Inc. (dba Voxello). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
    Financial: Research reported in this article was supported in part by the National Institute of Nursing Research under Awards R43NR016406 and R44NR016406 to Iowa Adaptive Technologies, Inc. (dba Voxello). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.×
  • Nonfinancial: Richard R. Hurtig has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Rebecca M. Alper has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Benjamin Berkowitz has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Richard R. Hurtig is the Vice-President and Chief Scientific Officer of Voxello. Rebecca M. Alper is a paid consultant of Voxello. Benjamin Berkowitz served as the Director of Product Development at Voxello. The publication of study results is not contingent upon the sponsor's review or censorship of the article.
    Nonfinancial: Richard R. Hurtig has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Rebecca M. Alper has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Benjamin Berkowitz has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Richard R. Hurtig is the Vice-President and Chief Scientific Officer of Voxello. Rebecca M. Alper is a paid consultant of Voxello. Benjamin Berkowitz served as the Director of Product Development at Voxello. The publication of study results is not contingent upon the sponsor's review or censorship of the article.×
Article Information
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Healthcare Settings / Part 3
Article   |   August 15, 2018
The Cost of Not Addressing the Communication Barriers Faced by Hospitalized Patients
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, August 2018, Vol. 3, 99-112. doi:10.1044/persp3.SIG12.99
History: Received February 26, 2018 , Revised April 3, 2018 , Accepted April 29, 2018
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, August 2018, Vol. 3, 99-112. doi:10.1044/persp3.SIG12.99
History: Received February 26, 2018; Revised April 3, 2018; Accepted April 29, 2018

Preventable adverse events (AEs) lead to poorer patient outcomes, added patient suffering and dissatisfaction, longer hospital stays, and billions in additional annual health care spending. Patients facing barriers to communication are 3 times more likely to experience a preventable AE than patients who faced no communication barriers. National data on hospital admissions, incidence and cost of preventable AEs, and the odds ratio regarding the risk of preventable AEs in people facing communication barriers were used to estimate potential benefits of improving patient communication. Reducing communication barriers could lead to an estimated reduction of 671,440 preventable AE cases and a cost savings of $6.8 billion annually. Facilitating patient–provider communication is an ethical and financial imperative. A multipronged approach, including increased awareness of and support for speech-language pathology services, is essential to creating a communication-friendly hospital culture, reducing patient suffering, and decreasing the financial cost of preventable AEs. Speech-language pathologists and allied health care professionals play a critical role in facilitating patient–provider communication and improving patient outcomes.

Acknowledgments
We would like to acknowledge the support of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics nursing staff—with particular thanks to Michele Wagner and Karen Stenger. We thank Sarah Blackstone for advice on the preparation of this article and Sarah Marshall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for discussion of clinical cases.
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