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The Most Common Emergency Room Errors

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

Most visits to an emergency room are unplanned—patients are often arriving with serious conditions and entrusting the team of doctors and nurses there to help save their lives. However, when mistakes occur, patients can be seriously harmed or injured. Here, the team of Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at Peter Angelos Law provides insight into the most common emergency room errors and what to do if you believe your care has been compromised as a result of negligence.

Emergency Room Errors with Information Processing

In 2018, researchers conducted a study that examined patients who came back to emergency departments a second time within 72 hours of their first visit and were admitted to the hospital on their second visit—indicators that their initial care was not sufficient or could have been improved. 45% of these visits included errors regarding information processing. In a high stress environment, such as an emergency room, it is imperative that the flow and accuracy of patient information is optimal. If a patient’s charts, medical history, or other pertinent information is not accurately recorded or relayed, the result could be detrimental.

Emergency Room Errors with Verification of Information

The same study found that 31% of the errors recorded resulted from errors with verification of information. Today, nearly all emergency departments utilize electronic records. However, it shouldn’t be all that the emergency room relies on for patient information. If this technology fails to perform, doctors could find themselves without any patient data to reference during treatment. It is essential that doctors take the time to verbally confirm information with patients when possible. If the patient is unresponsive, taking the time to speak with nurses, other medical personnel, or the patient’s family can provide clarification and verification of pertinent medical history.

Emergency Room Errors with Inadequate Information Gathering

The human body is a complex system, so it is important that doctors have a thorough understanding of how the presenting symptoms are impacting the entire body. While a patient may come into the emergency room for one issue, there could be an underlying, more serious issue at the root of their ailment. Inadequate information gathering about a patient accounted for 18% of emergency room errors in the conducted study. For example, a patient that repetitively comes into the emergency room for frequent, heavy nose bleeds may be suffering from a more serious blood clotting disorder. A doctor in the emergency room should take time thoroughly examining a patient to ensure that they are treating all of the patient’s needs, rather than just the obvious signs or symptoms. It is important that a doctor asks the right questions to help understand the full picture of the patient’s health.

Emergency Room Errors with a Premature Diagnosis

Many times, emergency room doctors are required to make decisions regarding their patients’ care quickly. However, making decisions too prematurely can lead to medical mistakes—13% of all errors in the study were attributed to a premature diagnosis. If a doctor over or under estimates the severity of a symptom, their patients can be given inadequate care. It is important that doctors order all necessary diagnostic tests before making decisions regarding more serious treatments. For example, if a patient comes in complaining of abdominal pain and may be experiencing appendicitis, it is important that a doctor orders the necessary ultrasound before making the decision to perform an appendectomy.

Emergency Room Errors Due to Inadequate Knowledge

The fast-paced environment of an emergency room requires doctors and nurses to be able to process information and think quickly. As a result, it is important that they are properly trained on how to handle emergency situations. According to the study, 6% of all emergency room errors stem from inadequate knowledge. It is important that emergency room personnel not only understand basic medicine, but also how certain drugs interact, how to prioritize treatment on a patient with multiple injuries, and how to conduct the proper diagnostic procedures.

Victim of an Emergency Room Error? Contact Our Team of Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

A trip to the emergency room is a hectic and often scary situation. Patients trust the team of doctors and nurses there to be able to treat them and provide a high level of care. However, when errors occur, patients often are the ones suffering. If you or someone you love were injured or improperly treated at an emergency room, you may have a viable medical malpractice case. While financial compensation cannot erase the pain and suffering that comes with such an injury, it can help with increased medical bills or lost wages. Consult with our team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Peter Angelos Law by filling out the form below.