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What Types of Medical Errors Occur in Emergency Rooms?

Millions of people in the US receive treatment in emergency rooms each year. In fact, statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show there were 141 million visits to the ER during 2014 alone. Emergency rooms are a critical aspect of our health care system, but they are also a place where medical errors may occur. Medical errors can be more likely to occur in emergency rooms because staff may spend less time with patients.

Emergency Room Medical Error #1: Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors are the most common type of medical mistake in the US, but they are especially common in emergency rooms. An emergency care physician may spend less time with patients and may not order tests that are necessary to produce an accurate diagnosis.

Heart attacks may be mistaken for gastrointestinal problems. Meningitis could be confused with a migraine or the flu. These are only a handful of examples. A misdiagnosis could lead to a lack of treatment or the wrong type of treatment. Both outcomes could cause further harm to patients.

Emergency Room Medical Error #2: Medication Mistakes

Hospital staff may give patients the incorrect medications. This can happen when hospital staff confuse two patients or mix up drugs with similar-sounding names. In other cases, staff may provide a patient with too much or too little of a medication.

Another common mistake involves incorrectly administering medications. For instance, providing a patient with an IV form of a medication instead of an oral version of the drug.

Emergency Room Medical Error #3: Poor Supervision

There are multiple types of supervision-related mistakes that can occur in an emergency room setting. For instance, emergency physicians must provide adequate supervision to doctors who are undergoing their residencies. Resident doctors may make mistakes due to long work schedules and a lack of experience.

There are also patient supervision mistakes. In these cases, hospital staff may not properly monitor patients. High-risk patients, such as those who are prone to falls, could suffer serious harm if they are not adequately supervised.

Can I Sue for an Emergency Room Medical Error?

You may be able to recover compensation if a medical mistake harmed you or a loved one. The Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers at Walsh Woodard, LLC can help you determine whether it would be possible to file a lawsuit. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 860-785-2011 or describe your situation by using our online case review form. You can read more about our success with medical malpractice cases by continuing to explore our website.

Are Medical Mistakes a Leading Cause of Death in the US?

Many of us already know that heart disease and cancer are leading causes of death in the US. You may not know that medical mistakes also kill hundreds of thousands of people in the US each year. Depending on who you ask, medical mistakes could be responsible for anywhere from 250,000 to 440,000 deaths annually.

According to a study published in the Journal of Patient Safety, 440,000 people die in the US each year from preventable medical mistakes. A study published in British Medical Journal (also called BMJ) put this number at roughly 252,000 per year. By comparison, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show that heart disease and cancer are responsible for 610,000 and 590,000 deaths respectively.

Why are so many people in our country dying while receiving health care? Unfortunately, the answer is never simple and varies substantially with each case. However, there are common errors that can be divided into specific groups.

  1. Diagnostic errors: Research has shown that diagnostic errors are responsible for more preventable deaths than any other type of medical mistake. Johns Hopkins University estimates that 80,000 to 160,000 patients die or suffer significant injuries each year due to diagnostic errors. You may never receive a correct diagnosis if you are affected by this mistake. In other cases, you may receive an incorrect diagnosis followed by a correct one at a later date. Your doctor could also fail to diagnose a second health condition caused by the first one.
  2. Medication mistakes: There are cases where patients are given the wrong medications. They may also be given the wrong dosages. Perhaps they are given two medications that should never be taken together. All of these medication mistakes could result in permanent injury or death. Medication mistakes can occur in any type of health care setting.
  3. Never events: The word “never event” is an umbrella term used to describe a specific group of mistakes that should never occur. This term could refer to specific types of surgery mistakes, such as performing a surgical operation on the wrong part of the body.
  4. Infections/poor sanitation: If your doctor does not follow basic handwashing and sanitation procedures, they could be putting you and others at risk of developing an infection. The same could be said if they failed to properly sanitize equipment before an operation.

When are Medical Mistakes Considered Medical Malpractice?

Medical mistakes have to meet certain criteria to be considered medical malpractice. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you make this determination if you or a loved one were harmed by a health care provider. Our law firm could review the details of your case at no cost to help you determine whether medical malpractice occurred. If we determined that malpractice did occur, we could begin laying the groundwork to pursue damages against the doctor, hospital, health facility or other parties.

Walsh Woodard, LLC has a proven record of success helping victims of medical malpractice and their families.

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