Although urgent care physicians serve many of the patients who might otherwise have gone to the hospital, emergency departments still see plenty of traffic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 130 million visits to emergency rooms in the United States annually. Ideally, each of these patients would receive appropriate and effective care, but it is an unfortunate fact that ERs are common sites for medical errors and malpractice. There are several issues that are more common than others, but these four are the most likely ones a patient would encounter when visiting an emergency room in the US.
Ignoring or doubting patient’s symptoms
There are many reasons why a medical professional might doubt or ignore a patient’s self-reported symptoms. It is true that patients sometimes have ulterior motives, but it is also true that doctors sometimes make untrue assumptions. No matter what the details of the situation might be, a medical professional should never neglect to provide adequate care because they doubt or disregard a patient’s symptoms. This is, nonetheless, one of the most common errors made in ERs.
Test result misinterpretation
An emergency room is a hectic place. There are often people with severe injuries, and a single moment could be the difference between life and death. An environment like this is not necessarily conducive to precision and attention to detail, but it is still imperative that medical professionals diagnose and treat each patient correctly. Still, when tests are conducted, it is not uncommon for nurses or doctors to misinterpret the results and proceed to administer the wrong treatment.
Treatment is delayed
Because ERs are often so busy and prone to overcrowding, it is inevitable that some treatments will be delayed. Medical staff is responsible, of course, for deciding which patients can wait for treatment and which cannot. Sometimes this causes imperative treatment to be delayed and a patient’s health to suffer as a result. It is the responsibility of doctors to ensure that urgent medical needs are not neglected in an ER.
Patient is wrongfully discharged
Generally speaking, the only reasons why a patient should be discharged are the patients’ own request or the doctor’s approval. There are many instances, however, where approval is wrongfully given and a patient is sent home without receiving the necessary medical treatment. This may be due to overcrowding, lack of insurance or a number of other causes, but in every case, it is dangerous to the life and well-being of the patient.
Patients who have been a victim of these or any other emergency room errors should understand their legal rights. Contacting a lawyer may help them get started in seeking recourse for the injustice they experienced.