How to Avoid Emergency Room Medical Errors

Emergency room doctors with patient

Medical errors are the 4th leading cause of death behind heart attacks, cancer, and car crashes. Medical errors kill more than 250,000 people in the United States every year. Fortunately, by being proactive, you can avoid many of the most common emergency room medical errors. If you or a loved has not received the proper care in the ER, contact a lawyer immediately. In most cases, the time frame to take action is limited to one year from the date of treatment.

What Are the Most Common Emergency Room Medical Errors?

The most common emergency room medical errors include:

  • Patient dumping (transferring or releasing a patient because of lack of financial resources or other financial reasons)
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Medication errors
  • Misinterpreting test results
  • Ignoring or downplaying patient symptoms
  • Delays in treatment
  • Failure to order appropriate tests

Of emergency room medical errors, the most common is misdiagnosis.

Here, we offer some tips that will help emergency room staff arrive at the correct diagnosis and, in turn, help you avoid being the victim of emergency room medical errors.

How Can You Avoid Becoming the Victim of Emergency Room Medical Errors?

If you experience an emergency, call 911 instead of taking yourself to the emergency room. In the commotion of a hospital emergency room, a common cause of misdiagnosis is the failure to take a patient’s complete medical history. When you contact 911, EMS personnel will respond and will be focused solely on you. By calling 911, you minimize distractions while the medical providers are taking your medical history. The EMS personnel will pass this information along to emergency room staff, and there is less risk that something will be missed.

It is also wise to call your personal physician, even if you are being taken to the emergency room by EMS. Doctors listen to other doctors, and if your physician is in contact with the emergency room staff your doctor can alert them to your medical history, any details about your unique medical situation, and any allergies you may have, as well as follow up with you regarding your care so things don’t fall through the cracks.

Finally, it is important to know if you are at a training hospital and, if so, whether you are being treated by an attending physician or a resident/intern. Be sure to request and write down the name of everyone who treats you. This is especially important at a teaching hospital, where every provider’s names won’t necessarily end up in your chart. By having the names of every medical provider, you won’t rely on the hospital for a record of who provided a particular service. If there is a question about what care was provided or who provided it, having your own record of what happened and who did what can be helpful.

Most Emergency Room Medical Errors Are Avoidable

Most emergency room medical errors are avoidable, and are caused by the way healthcare providers manage resources. Common causes of emergency room medical errors include:

  • Lack of equipment or resources
  • Overcrowding
  • Staff stress and fatigue
  • Low staffing
  • Inexperience and lack of training
  • Shortage of hospital beds
  • Not following standard protocol
  • Rushing from one patient to another
  • Not obtaining a proper medical history

Most of these causes stem from corporate decisions that place profits over people. This creates a situation where emergency room personnel do not have everything they need to function optimally. The hospital administrator should know how many people typically come to an emergency room, and needs to staff the department appropriately.

If you were hurt due to an emergency room medical error, it’s important to understand that you might be entitled to compensation, even if the medical provider’s actions were not intentional. Medical providers have a duty to provide a certain standard of care. If they make a mistake and the care falls below that standard, the medical provider might be liable for negligence.

Negligence means that the doctor or other healthcare provider did not meet the standard of care. They made a professional error. And sometimes, professional errors in judgment have disastrous results.

Were You Hurt Because of Emergency Room Medical Errors?

If you believe that emergency room medical errors caused your injuries, it’s important that you contact a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney as quickly as possible.

Medical malpractice cases are often subject to a one-year statute of limitations. If you don’t file your case within one year, you might lose the right to receive compensation for damages caused by someone else’s mistake.

If emergency room medical errors in Ohio caused your injuries, speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as quickly as possible.

Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing doctors and hospitals at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 20 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured by negligent health care providers.

Categories: Medical Malpractice

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