Mistakes made by medical providers in hospital emergency departments may cause serious injury or death for patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 130 million emergency room visits across the U.S. in 2018 alone. When seeking treatment at hospital emergency departments, patients rely on the health care professionals to completely perform their duties and to do their best to effectively treat the conditions that brought the patients in. Unfortunately, patients may receive substandard care because of emergency room errors or negligence.
Doctors, nurses, and others working in emergency rooms may make a variety of mistakes that may cause adverse effects for patients. Some of the most common of these may include misdiagnoses, delays in diagnosis, administration of treatment inappropriate for the patient’s condition, and failure to order necessary medications.
Many ER injuries also result from treatment management errors. For example, a patient is injured in a car accident. While focused on other areas, the providers in the emergency department failed to adequately stabilize the patient’s neck and, as a result, the patient suffers paralysis.
As a result of mistakes in their care, emergency department patients may experience a range of adverse effects. Errors in the care of patients may result in pain, extended or new illnesses, and even death. Patients may also suffer emotional trauma due to mistakes on the part of their health care providers.
In addition to the physical and emotional harm they may suffer because of emergency department mistakes, patients and their families may also experience time and financial costs. Due to the effects of ER errors and their resulting injuries, patients may require additional or prolonged medical care, including hospitalization and follow-up treatment. Consequently, they may take on the added medical expense and require more time away from home and work, which may result in lost income.
Various factors may contribute to causing ER injuries. Many such cases result from negligence or carelessness on the part of medical providers and hospital staff. For instance, communication breakdowns between health care team members may lead to patients getting the wrong medications or other such mistakes that may cause serious injury or death. Breakdowns in communication may include illegible or incomplete documentation, incomplete handoffs between providers, and failure to respond to patients’ calls or concerns. Distractions, failure to follow the appropriate procedures and processes, and information flow problems also commonly contribute to the occurrence of ER injuries.
If a loved one is injured due to an ER mistake, he or she may file a lawsuit to hold the responsible medical provider or facility financially liable. Those injured due to medical negligence may receive compensation for their injury-associated losses, which may include medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity. They may also recover damages for non-economic losses such as their physical and emotional pain and suffering. Some states have laws in place capping the amount patients may recover in medical malpractice claims, while others do not limit the compensation that patients may receive.