Most non-emergency medical needs are addressed by family physicians and general practitioners. People with infections or mild to moderate injuries will schedule an appointment with their primary care physician for diagnosis and treatment.
However, there are some medical concerns that cannot wait for the next business day. When people have reason to believe that their well-being is at risk or when their pain levels are unbearably high, they may require emergency care. Emergency rooms at hospitals allow for rapid admission to the medical system and treatment for serious, possibly life-threatening medical issues. Unfortunately, emergency rooms are where a shocking number of major medical mistakes occur each year. Why are errors in the emergency room so common?
Triage practices can be faulty
When the demand in an emergency room facility is low, the professionals staffing it can have an in-depth interaction with everyone who shows up seeking care. During times when demand surges, the waiting room might run out of chairs, and people may wait for hours to talk to a physician.
Obviously, a delay in the emergency room could be a life-or-death matter for someone experiencing a cardiac event or a stroke, as well as those losing blood because of a traumatic injury. The staff at the emergency room must therefore evaluate each patient’s claims as they present themselves to establish not only who has the greatest need of treatment but also who is unlikely to respond to treatment. The triage process allows for the best allocation of resources in some cases.
Unfortunately, this process sometimes means that people who need immediate care end up waiting while those with less serious health concerns receive immediate support. Sometimes, professionals not familiar with the differences in symptoms for major medical issues like cardiac events might turn someone away when they require admission to the hospital and emergency care.
Patients harmed by poor emergency room management may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Additionally, those who lose a loved one because of denied or delayed treatment at an emergency room because of poor triage practices or other mistakes may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Holding medical facilities accountable for poor practices is often the only way to protect others from experiencing the same kinds of medical negligence in the future.