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Emergency Room Errors

Many people who are ill or injured first seek medical help in an emergency room. Unfortunately, several studies have found that emergency rooms or the emergency departments of hospitals and other medical centers are often the site of preventable medical errors that cause patients serious harm.

Many ER mistakes result from miscommunication among doctors, nurses and others who are trying to process patients too quickly to do a proper job. Miscommunication leads to improper diagnosis and treatment of patients’ problems. An emergency room error caused by negligence may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Kraft & Associates, P.C., of Dallas investigates medical malpractice claims in Texas for individuals and families who have been significantly harmed by preventable medical errors in emergency rooms. If you believe you have been harmed by an emergency room error, contact us today for a free and confidential discussion of the legal options available to you.

Why Are Emergency Room Errors Common?

A study that was considered “the pioneering study on medical errors and injury” found that emergency departments had the highest proportion of adverse events due to negligence of any area of the hospital. Texas emergency room practices made international headlines in 2014 after the death of a Dallas Ebola patient was preceded by what was allegedly a fatal mistake made by ER doctors and nurses.

Although the patient reportedly complained of symptoms that fit a diagnosis of Ebola and told a nurse that he had just arrived from Liberia, the site of an ongoing Ebola outbreak, he was sent home with antibiotics. He later returned to the hospital and was diagnosed with Ebola, but died while being treated.

The type of miscommunication alleged in the Ebola patient’s initial visit to the ER is at the heart of many emergency room errors. Effectively diagnosing and treating illness and injury requires clearly understood communications between the patient and medical professionals, and among medical professionals.

Miscommunication problems can be oral or written. They may include:

  • Not listening to a patient’s symptoms or medical history.
  • Not asking about a patient’s symptoms or medical history.
  • Improperly recording a patient’s symptoms or medical history.
  • Errors in ordering diagnostic tests or medication.
  • Delays in running tests or providing treatment.
  • Mistakes in interpreting test results.
  • Medication errors, including mistakes in ordering or dispensing medications.
  • “Handoff errors” in relaying instructions among staff members or departments as patients are transferred or when work shifts change.

When emergency rooms are extremely busy, or if communication problems delay steps in the treatment process, patients are often left unattended for long periods. Patients whose illness or injury leaves them disoriented or physically unbalanced are susceptible to falling and being injured if left alone in an ER. Elderly patients are also susceptible to falls.

Another common source of ER errors is ignoring policies and procedures. Doctors, nurses, technicians and other medical workers sometimes cut corners to save time or for personal reasons, such as fatigue, disdain for “unnecessary” steps or a belief that circumstances require a different course of action.

Repeated violations of policies and procedures may be a product of a climate that has been allowed in the ER. In some cases, a medical institution’s policies and procedures are unclear, outdated or insufficient. Errors caused by ignoring policies or by following bad policies may be due to negligence on the part of the medical center itself.

Emergency room errors are also common because hospital emergency departments are sometimes staffed with part-time physicians who are not well-trained in emergency care. This is another case in which the hospital itself may be liable for an ER error.

Contact Our Lawyers About ER Malpractice

The medical malpractice attorneys of Kraft & Associates, P.C., can investigate your case if you suspect that an error in the emergency room treatment resulted in significant harm. If you have a valid claim, we are prepared to pursue the maximum compensation you deserve through settlement negotiations or in court if necessary.

Kraft & Associates investigates ER errors in Dallas and throughout Northern Texas with the help of independent medical experts, and aggressively pursues compensation for our clients against even the largest medical institutions when we find that harmful errors were caused by negligence.

Contact us today online, at kraftlaw@kraftlaw.com, or at (214) 999-9999 for a free discussion of your potential claim.

 

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