Study: Many hospital pages sent to wrong doctor

Paging the wrong doctor can be a serious communications foul-up, particularly in an urgent situation--but it's all too common, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine

The study concludes that in a two-month period, 14 percent of all pages sent at two Canadian teaching hospitals were sent to the wrong physician. These pages, 47 percent of which were urgent, were sent to residents who were scheduled to be off-duty or out of the hospital. That suggests that about 2,000 pages are sent that need a quick response, but never get one.

In response to this study, some hospitals have already implemented a standardized system for nurses to use in paging physicians, including the hospital where one of the study's authors works. However, such systems are still unusual, and should be more widely implemented, the authors suggest.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Wall Street Journal health blog item