The Cost of Not Addressing the Communication Barriers Faced by Hospitalized Patientsedit
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.