Communication for Patient Safety
Potential Barriers to Communication

Potential Barriers to Communication

The complexity of healthcare results in many barriers to effective communication.

Trevor Little, 2005

  • resistance of caregivers to change behaviours[1]

  • time pressures from patient care needs and other responsibilities[1]

  • training and time cost of implementing new hand-over processes[1]

  • language, education, cultural differences - "staff composition may not reflect the demographics of the community being served"[1]

  • low health literacy of patient population [1]

  • lack of financial resources and staffing shortages [1]

  • technical and specific language of health care

  • 24/7 care

  • acuity

  • multiple providers - teams are fluid not fixed

  • ward activity does not coincide with visiting hours, so overlap between team and family not always possible

  • geographic distance - community care at distance from tertiary care centre

"the solutions for improving patient safety offer a more constructive approach - one in which success (safer care) is determined by how well caregivers work together as a team, how effectively they communicate with one another and with patients, and how carefully the care delivery processes and supporting systems of are are designed."[1]



1. World Health Organization. Communication During Patient Hand-overs. Patient Safety Solutions. 2007;May. Available from:

All references for this section