Emergency rooms are high-stress, high-stakes environments. Emergency room medical staff face literal life and death situations on a daily basis. They have to be ready to make swift, accurate decisions to save their patients’ lives. Sometimes, however, those decisions might cost a patient their life.
Emergency Room Errors Occur Often
Emergency room errors, along with diagnostic errors and surgical errors, are one of the most common medical malpractice claims. Because of emergency rooms’ stressful natures, it is unfortunately more likely that a medical professional will make a mistake that harms their patient. In the United States alone, over 100 million people visit the emergency room a year. Of those cases, 5-10% will experience some type of medical error. This may sound like a small number, but that translates to between 50,000 and 10,000 errors. This means that up to 10,000 people suffer from an emergency room error every year.
High Levels of Pressure Contribute to Emergency Room Errors
Research suggests that emergency room errors occur so frequently because of the pressure that emergency room staff endure. One study revealed that emergency rooms are often so crowded that patients usually wait over an hour to receive treatment. Many people come to emergency rooms because they have problems that need to be addressed immediately, which means that emergency room staff have to rush through each case to get to the next. This unfortunately may lead to missed or wrongly diagnosed symptoms that might worsen without proper treatment. Diagnostic errors are the most common forms of emergency room errors. These include wrong diagnoses or delayed diagnoses.
Burnout and Exhaustion Lead to Medical Errors
Additionally, the high-stress environments of emergency rooms may lead to burnout among medical staff. Because emergency rooms are often overcrowded and understaffed, medical professionals have to work through emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. Burnout is a significant factor in medical errors because it greatly impacts decision making skills. Some other common emergency room errors include:
- Failure to fully record a patient’s medical history
- Failure to communicate with the patient or other medical professionals about patient’s care
- Failure to perform tests to confirm diagnosis
- Failure to fully treat a patient or sending the patient home prematurely
- Prescribing wrong or inappropriate amounts of medication
How We Can Help
While working in an emergency room is understandably challenging, there is still a standard of care that emergency room staff are required to meet. Not meeting that standard is unjust to their patients and is considered medical negligence. If an emergency room error occurs because of medical negligence that causes harm to a patient, the person responsible needs to be held accountable. If you or a loved one has suffered from an emergency room error, contact us today. At The Brothers Law Firm, we understand your pain and frustration during this time of need. We have represented numerous clients who have suffered serious health problems and even death due to emergency room errors. We can help you understand your legal rights and determine the best options possible to ensure you and your family get the help you deserve. To get started, fill out our online form to request a free consultation or call us at 281-491-3635.