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Why are emergency room errors such a serious health concern?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Personal Injury

emergency room sign outside hospital

There are many different medical environments that can help people in a variety of circumstances. Someone with a scheduled medical procedure can receive care at a hospital or a doctor’s office. Emergency rooms allow for rapid entry into a medical facility and potentially quicker access to treatment and diagnosis than someone might receive if they wait to talk to their primary care physician about their symptoms.

Emergency rooms are, therefore, some of the most important facilities in the modern healthcare system. They help ensure that someone in need of life-saving care can undergo treatment as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, quite a few mistakes happen in emergency room settings, and those medical mistakes can have dire consequences for the patient involved. The following factors contribute to the relatively high error rate in emergency room settings.

Fluctuating patient demand

Hospitals have to make careful choices about how many people they have working at one time. The emergency room might go days without much traffic, only to see dozens of people show up in a short amount of time. These fluctuations in patient demand create staffing challenges during times when there are more patients than staff members can handle. Emergency room workers may have to engage in triage practices. They make snap judgments about people’s likelihood of recovery and may get things wrong sometimes.

Communication challenges

Often, the person seeking care in an emergency first communicates with someone in reception followed by an actual nurse or physician’s assistant. It could be quite some time before they have a chance to talk with the doctor. The patient might share different information with each of those parties, all while assuming that what they communicate ends up shared among the various professionals involved in their treatment.

Sadly, emergency room workers may fail to share with one another information about individual patients, which can lead to emergency room workers overlooking important details. Additionally, patients don’t always have the best communication skills while struggling with unpleasant symptoms. They may fail to properly explain themselves or overlook certain details.

Differences in symptoms

The final reason why major errors in emergency rooms are so common is how different conditions can manifest very different symptoms depending on the person affected. For example, a woman experiencing a heart attack or stroke may have vastly different symptoms than a man in the same position. If medical workers don’t know both sets of symptoms, they could turn someone away while they are in desperate need of care.

Patients seeking treatment at emergency rooms sometimes face significant delays and medical complications because of the errors made by those providing their treatment. Understanding what contributes to emergency room errors may help people feel more capable of fighting back against medical malpractice when they experience it.