All of us will eventually get sick or have a serious injury that requires a visit to a hospital emergency room. We go to the ER to have doctors and trained nursing staff provide necessary medical treatment to us or our loved ones. Unfortunately, all too often the care we receive in ER settings falls far short of the standard of care required by the medical profession. In fact, a recent study, it is found that 225,000 to 400,000 people die from medical malpractice per year. Of this number, almost half of all cases are related to emergency room errors.
There are many reasons why medical mistakes can occur in the emergency room. The emergency room staff is sometimes plain overworked. They are working twelve hour shifts with minimal breaks. Many of the physicians feel rushed, because the emergency room is so busy. They can easily overlook important details such as patient’s lab results to misreading an x-ray or CT scan.
Misdiagnosing, delayed diagnosing, and failure to diagnose medical conditions are a major issue when it comes to medical malpractice. After all, a condition cannot be treated properly until it is properly diagnosed. Some of the most serious injuries result from failing to diagnose appendicitis, brain aneurysm, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and internal bleeding. These conditions can happen easily while waiting in the emergency room to see a physician, or waiting for a physician to catch these conditions. Another serious mistake can result from contaminated blood transfusions, where infection can spread fast and wide. Unsanitary conditions can lead to major infections, including the most prevalent, staph infections. This can happen from a nurse or physician not washing there hands in between seeing patients, easily spreading infection from one patient to another.
Another example of common malpractice is what is referred to as, “patient dumping.” Patient dumping refers to turning away patients or transferring them to a different hospital because they cannot afford to pay, do not have insurance coverage, or discrimination. This still happens in emergency rooms even though it is clearly illegal and not to mention unethical. Lastly, it is easy for mistakes to be made when administering medicine if not watched closely. A doctor could accidently prescribe the wrong medicine or a nurse grab the wrong type off the shelf. This also happens when a patient is accidently given the wrong dose or has an adverse affect to the medication. Another concern is when medical personnel neglect to take down a medical history to see previous conditions, current medications and allergies.
In any situation where you think medical error has occurred, you should seek help. First, it should be from the emergency room. Make sure you clearly understand procedures that are going to take place and medications that are given to you. If you feel like you don’t understand what the physician is telling to you make sure that you ask for it to be explained again. After you leave the emergency room, if you feel like an error has occurred be sure to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable on the subject of malpractice. They will be able to consult with you and inform you whether you do have a legitimate case