The emergency room is the medical facility that people rush to when they need help and can’t wait until normal office hours. People who just suffered a fracture, believe they experienced a stroke or who have an unconscious family member race to the emergency room to have professionals evaluate them and expedite the process of getting them medical treatment.
Sometimes, people go to the emergency room for medical conditions that are truly not emergencies. Other times, most of the people waiting at the emergency room have legitimate concerns, but there aren’t enough staff members around to evaluate and treat everyone quickly. Unfortunately, especially when demand for services is particularly high, patients at emergency rooms may not receive the support and treatment they require.
The professionals deciding who gets seen quickly and who they turn away might make a mistake. One factor is responsible for nearly half of all of those emergency room errors that occur every year.
Breakdowns in information sharing are a big concern
Inadequate or ineffective sharing of information and communication errors are the leading issues contributing to mistakes in emergency rooms. Sometimes, the issue is that a staff member communicating with the patient doesn’t have access to their file yet.
Other times, one emergency room worker receives crucial information from a patient or their family members and fails to share that information with others. There are also times when the patient is the one responsible for the communication failure because they do not properly assert themselves or explain their symptoms in a way that the professionals can understand. Such communication failures account for 45% of emergency room errors.
Other common contributing factors that increase the likelihood of an emergency room mistake include difficulty verifying information given by patients, misjudging the situation and reaching the wrong diagnosis too quickly.
Not getting care quickly could make a big difference
Those turned away from an emergency room because staff members don’t believe they had a real emergency or who had significant delays in getting care may actually have experienced malpractice. In a scenario where better listening skills, more effective communication or better knowledge would have made a difference, a patient affected by an emergency room mistake may have grounds to bring a claim against the facility that did not provide adequate care.
Understanding the causes of common forms of medical malpractice can help those in need of medical care be better advocates for themselves at the emergency room.