Each year a significant number of people go to the emergency room looking for medical care. These patients have every kind of injury or illness. There are times when the emergency room will be flooded with people who need medical attention immediately. This makes emergency rooms especially hectic.
Even with the significant flow of patients, doctors and nurses in the emergency room still have a duty of care to each patient whom they serve. There are still rules and procedures that the staff of the hospital are required to follow. However, with the chaotic nature of the emergency room, some patients may not receive the care they need. Mistakes can also result from understaffing or poorly equipped emergency rooms. A patient may be forced to wait a significant and unreasonable amount of time to see a doctor, or they may be misdiagnosed once they do see the doctor. When doctors or other hospital employees have been careless, did not have the proper skills or ignored rules and procedures, the hospital may be held liable for the injuries the patient sustains.
While a patient is in the emergency room, errors can occur at any time. The most common emergency room error is the failure to diagnose or misdiagnosing a life-threatening condition. X-rays or MRIs may not be ordered when necessary, or may not be read by competent personnel during the emergency room visit. This could result in failure to treat tumors, severe fractures, and other serious conditions. Another example is a patient who is showing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke but is misdiagnosed and discharged.
Additionally, triaging patients, or prioritizing patients to determine the order in which they receive care, is also an area where errors can occur. While triaging patients it is extremely important that the patients are properly categorized so that patients who have the most urgent problems are treated before patients who have medical problems that are less pressing. If triage is done improperly then patients may die in the emergency while they are waiting to receive care.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of emergency room malpractice, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
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