The chaotic nature of emergency rooms can lead to numerous emergency room errors. Emergency room errors are not uncommon, and the results can be devastating for patients and their families. With over 136 million emergency room visits per year in the United States, there is a high chance that you or a loved one could be faced with a serious emergency room error.
Wagstaff & Cartmell is dedicated to representing those affected by emergency room errors. We are uniquely aware of the high stakes involved when a doctor, hospital or other professional is sued. Still, emergency room errors are inexcusable, and if you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to emergency room negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
Contributing Factors in Emergency Room Errors
The Doctors Company recently published a study entitled Emergency Medicine Closed Claims Study, in which researchers analyzed 332 closed claims where patients had alleged that a medical provider had committed negligence. Based on the data, the causes of emergency room errors were attributed to:
- Errors in patient assessment: Failing to perform certain duties expected during
assessment, such as ordering tests, establishing a differential diagnosis, and other errors in the diagnosis process. This was present in 52 percent of cases.
- Patient factors: Patient characteristics caused a delay in care (e.g. morbid obesity or failing to follow treatment plan). This was present in 21 percent of cases.
- Poor communication among healthcare providers: Present in 17 percent of cases.
- Communication problems between provider and patient: Includes inadequate treatment instructions to patient and language barriers. This was present in 14 percent of cases.
- Documentation errors: Include a failure to document or review patient’s records. Present 13 percent of the time.
- Workload/Workflow issues: Examples include staffing issues or long wait times for patients in critical condition. This was present in 12 percent of cases.
Types of Emergency Room Errors
Doctors and medical professionals in emergency rooms must make quick decisions on the best course of action for their patients. These rushed decisions can result in a variety of errors that can seriously harm their patients, such as:
This can include failing to diagnose a patient (or giving a patient an incorrect diagnosis), not ordering the proper diagnostic tests, or misreading a patient’s symptoms.
Delay in Treatment
Improper handling of a patient can result in much longer wait times, or wait times disproportionate to the serious nature of a patient’s health. Mistaken triaging (or prioritizing), not believing a patient’s symptoms, or discriminatory practices can all lead to a delay in treatment.
Due to misdiagnosis or miscommunication, patients can mistakenly be given the wrong medication. This can result in serious injury and even death in the most serious of cases.
Faulted results or mishandled information can lead to incorrect diagnoses or improper treatment. Lab results can be lost, accidentally swapped, or laboratory equipment might fail to identify an issue in time to treat it.
Improper Discharge or Failure to Follow Up
A premature discharge can result in repeat visits to the emergency room or in serious injuries. After discharge, a patient should have clear directions for further treatment and/or any medications necessary. Doctors may also fail to follow up with the patient or the patient’s regular doctor about irregularities in test results that could affect the patient’s health.
There are many negligent errors that can occur in an emergency room, including patient dumping (transferring or discharging a patient for monetary purposes), treatment administered by improperly trained personnel, unsanitary conditions in the hospital or on equipment, x-ray errors and EMT errors.
Injuries Resulting From Emergency Room Errors
Although an emergency room may be at capacity and doctors may be overworked, these facts alone do not excuse medical errors from occurring. While diagnoses must be made on-the-fly and with respect to other patients, a patient should not have about being improperly examined or dismissed early.
Common injuries that can result due to the negligence of emergency room personnel include appendicitis, stroke, brain aneurysms, pulmonary embolisms and internal hemorrhaging. Other injuries may occur and lead to life-long pain, health complications and even death in the most extreme of instances.
While proving negligence in emergency room medical malpractice claims may be difficult, your chances of recovering compensation for your injuries is greatly improved with experienced and proven attorneys representing you and your claim.
At Wagstaff & Cartmell, we take comfort in this type of high-stakes litigation and will fight fiercely to get the results you want—and the compensation you need. For more information or to discuss the details of your claim, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.