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Humanising medicine and reducing medical errors

19 April 2024

A patient-centred approach, based on empathy and understanding, has the potential to significantly reduce errors in healthcare, making treatment safer and more effective.

Medical errors

With the increasing complexity of health systems, medical errors are a significant problem that affects both patients and health professionals themselves. These errors, often the result of system constraints, time pressures or a lack of adequate communication, can lead to serious health consequences and even human lives. However, behind each of these errors is more than just a procedural mistake; it is often a lack of humanisation in the approach to the patient.

An example of this is when a patient comes to hospital with chest pains. Instead of a thorough history and individual approach, the patient may be quickly and routinely classified under a typical diagnosis, such as a heart attack, without any deeper recognition of other possible causes. Such a scenario, although it seems unlikely, happens more often than one might think, and the underlying cause is precisely the lack of time to approach the patient individually and understand their unique situation.

In this situation, humanising medicine by focusing on the patient as an individual, with their history, emotions and needs, can play a key role in reducing medical errors. By building a relationship based on trust, empathy and effective communication, healthcare professionals can better understand their patients' needs, which in turn leads to more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatment.

Impact of humanisation on patient satisfaction and safety

Humanising medicine is not just a philosophy; it is a practical approach that has a real impact on the patient experience in the healthcare system. When medicine focuses not only on the disease, but also on the person of the patient, with their unique history, needs and emotions, the results are noticeable in both patient satisfaction and patient safety.

The impact of humanisation on patient satisfaction is multidimensional. When patients feel that they are treated with respect, that their opinions are listened to and their concerns and feelings are taken into account, their trust in the medical staff increases. This trust is crucial, not only for the psychological wellbeing of the patient, but also for the effectiveness of the treatment. Patients who feel understood and supported are more likely to cooperate, comply with medical recommendations and actively participate in the treatment process.

Patient safety is also improved under humanised care. When doctors and medical staff focus on the full picture of a patient's health, including their living environment, medical history and individual risk factors, diagnoses become more accurate and treatment plans more tailored to the needs of the individual patient. This reduces the risk of medical errors, such as misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment or prescribing the wrong medication.

A patient-centred approach is also conducive to creating a healthcare system that is more flexible and open to change. Medical institutions that adopt a humanistic approach are often more willing to innovate, which translates into better quality health services.

Humanisation reducing medical errors

The introduction of humanisation into medical practice is concretely reflected in real cases and research. By analysing different clinical situations, we can see how a patient-centred approach contributes to reducing medical errors and improving the quality of care.

One example is a study conducted in a hospital where regular meetings between the medical team and patients and their families were introduced. This practice, which allowed for a deeper exchange of information and understanding of the patient's needs, contributed to a significant reduction in misunderstandings and errors in the treatment process. Doctors, with direct insight into patients' concerns and expectations, were able to better tailor therapeutic plans, resulting in more targeted and safer treatment.

Another example is a hospital that implemented a training programme for medical staff focusing on empathy and communication. As a result of this programme, a reduction in patient complaints was observed, as well as improved clinical safety indicators, including a reduction in medication and diagnostic errors.

In addition, case studies from various medical facilities show that where medical staff spend more time talking to patients, explaining procedures and answering questions, there the risk of misunderstandings and medical errors is significantly lower. In these environments, where patients are treated as partners in the treatment process and their experiences and opinions are important, the efficiency of healthcare increases.

These considerations reveal that the humanisation of medicine goes beyond being a purely theoretical concept to being a useful method significantly influencing the reduction of treatment errors and raising standards of healthcare. They demonstrate that a focus on the patient, his or her needs and feelings, is crucial for safe and effective medicine.


Did you know that physician empathy can reduce the risk of medical errors? Doctors who actively listen and show understanding are more likely to make accurate clinical decisions.

Effective communication in healthcare is about more than just passing on information. It can significantly reduce errors in diagnosis and treatment.

Most medical errors result from inadequate communication. Focusing on the needs of the patient can help prevent them.

Case studies show that doctors who spend more time talking to patients make fewer mistakes. Time spent understanding the patient is an investment in better treatment outcomes.