If you’ve sustained an injury and are waiting to be seen in the E.R., the last thing you’d expect is that a nurse, doctor, or medical technician may make a mistake and cause you harm. We expect medical professionals to treat us fairly and properly and to take the necessary actions to improve our health and well-being. Unfortunately, mistakes in hospital settings—including emergency room settings—do happen.
While there are a variety of explanations for these mistakes, there are never any excuses. Mistakes and errors in a hospital setting that cause harm should not occur. To avoid mistakes in the emergency room, it’s important to examine how they happen, what the consequences of them are, and what you can do as a patient to improve the care you receive.
Common E.R. Mistakes and Their Consequences
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are nearly 137 million visits to emergency room departments every single year. That leaves a lot of room for errors with patient care. It’s important, as a patient in the E.R., to recognize some of the most prevalent mistakes that are made by hospital staff.
Diagnostic Errors. Diagnostic errors occur when a patient is misdiagnosed or isn’t diagnosed at all. This is one of the most common mistakes made in the emergency room. Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include heart attacks and strokes.
Medication Errors. When medication errors occur, patients risk receiving the wrong medication or too high a dosage of medication. Wrong medications can cause unexpected side effects. If a patient receives a dosage of medication that is too high, for example, the consequences can be severe.
Miscommunication. Unfortunately, miscommunication errors are common in emergency room departments. These errors occur for a variety of reasons; however, oftentimes miscommunication occurs because of fatigued or stressed staff members and inadequate notations. When a miscommunication happens, a patient may receive the wrong treatment or no treatment at all.
Surgical Errors. Emergency surgical errors are often related to miscommunication. A patient may undergo an unnecessary surgery or may be subjected to surgery on the wrong side of their body if parts are not adequately marked.
Delayed Treatment. Delayed treatment occurs when a patient does not receive the care they need within the timeframe that the doctor ordered the treatment. This may include errors with medication, lab testing, or other medical procedures.
5 Ways to Improve Your E.R. Care
1) Know When to Call 9-1-1
When dealing with a stressful medical situation, it can be difficult to decide whether you should drive yourself to an urgent care clinic, go to an emergency room, or call 9-1-1. In order to make this decision, you’ll want to evaluate you or the patient’s age, health history, why the injury occurred, and what symptoms are being experienced.
There are some symptoms that require immediate medical attention. Those symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting with a headache
- Severe abdominal pain
- Trauma to the head, torso, or spine
- Any pain that increases over time
- Asthma attacks
2) Disclose All of Your Medical Problems
No matter how insignificant your symptoms seem, you’re in the emergency room for a reason. Make sure you tell the nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff everything you can think of. This may include your health conditions, allergies, physicians, and all medications. This information helps medical staff treat you quickly and effectively.
3) Communicate Effectively
While it may be difficult to divulge certain information to a stranger while in the hospital, you have to remember that’s their job. Avoid lying, beating around the bush, or neglecting to mention medical cost concerns when speaking to your caregivers. If you communicate clearly, you’re likely to receive better and more accurate care.
4) Speak Up
If you see something you don’t think is right, be sure to tell someone. If you’re concerned about sanitation, the medications you’re receiving, or the care you’re receiving, inform a nurse or doctor. They’ll be able to address your concerns and take the appropriate actions to resolve them.
5) Understand Your Discharge Instructions
In some cases, emergency rooms can be so busy that you may not receive detailed discharge instructions when it’s time for you to go home. Remember that you are still in the hospital’s care until you sign those papers and walk out the door.
Make sure you understand what you can expect during your recovery, the kind of activities you should avoid, how to properly care for any wounds or incision sites, how to reach medical staff if you have any additional questions, and how to take any prescribed medications.
If you’ve been the victim of a mistake or error in an emergency room that caused harm or worsened your injury, you may have the right to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions. Our Baltimore emergency room error attorneys have experience representing victims of medical malpractice. To begin your case, contact us online today for a free consultation.