A recent study examined why emergency room errors occur.
Before you visit a physician, you likely do some research to assess whether he or she is a competent practitioner. However, if you require emergency medical treatment, you do not have this luxury. Unfortunately, emergency rooms are not immune from medical errors. When this occurs, you can be at risk of a serious injury. If the error is major, it could mean death.
In order to reduce the risk of emergency room errors, The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurer, recently released a study examining the main types of errors occurring in ERs and the common factors present in them.
The study, titled Emergency Medicine Closed Claims Study, looked at 332 malpractice claims arising out of treatment delivered in the emergency room. The researchers found that there were for major types of claims:
• Diagnostic errors: Responsible for 57 percent of the claims, diagnostic errors, such as delays in reaching a correct diagnosis or misdiagnoses, were the most numerous claim type.
• Errors in treatment management: Thirteen percent of claims were caused by procedural errors in treatment (e.g. failing to disinfect a wound, leading to an infection).
• Incorrect treatments: In only five percent of claims, the patient was given the wrong treatment for his or her medical condition.
• Medication errors: In three percent of claims, the emergency department gave the wrong type of medication or failed to prescribe the drugs necessary for effective treatment.
In addition to examining the main types of errors committed in emergency rooms, the study found that certain common factors were the likely culprits behind the errors. It found that, overwhelmingly, mistakes in patient assessment were the most prevalent causes of the errors. Present in 52 percent of claims, this type of error included failing to properly diagnose the patient’s condition and failing to order needed tests.
Following diagnostic errors, communication errors were another major cause of emergency room errors. In 17 percent of cases, the healthcare provider failed to adequately review the patient’s medical record or did not communicate effectively with other providers. Additionally, in 14 percent of claims, the provider failed to effectively communicate with the patient because of poor patient rapport, a language barrier or an inability to make the treatment orders understandable to the patient.
The study also found that a significant number of errors in the ER, 12 percent, were likely caused by shortages in staff or overwork.
An attorney can help
Regardless of the reason behind the error, a medical mistake can cause you to require additional medical treatment followed by rehabilitation. Some mistakes are irreversible and have life-long consequences. Fortunately, Oregon law provides you the means to recover your financial and emotional losses caused by negligent providers in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Since medical malpractice lawsuits are often complex, it is important to have experienced legal representation on your side. The attorneys at Miller & Wagner, LLP understand what you are going through and can use their considerable experience in helping people in your situation obtain the compensation you deserve under law.