Nurse in a blurred out emergency room.

Common Emergency Room Errors

Hospital emergency rooms are often chaotic. They can be crowded. They can be understaffed. They can be overwhelming. All this considered, it may not surprise you to hear that medical mistakes are all too common in emergency room settings. Because they are common, however, it does not mean that they are acceptable. In fact, mistakes resulting from negligence on the part of an emergency room doctor or another medical care professional often form the basis for medical malpractice claims. A medical malpractice claim allows the patient injured by the receipt of substandard medical care to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered.

What is considered an emergency room error?

Some of the most common emergency room errors pertain to the misdiagnosis of a patient. Doctors and other treating medical professionals can often feel rushed in the emergency room setting. There are many people to see and oftentimes there are patients that demand immediate and intensive medical care. This time pressure often leads to overlooking or downplaying a patient’s symptoms which, in turn, can lead to a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis. In other words, a patient may be improperly diagnosed and receive treatment below the appropriate standard of care as a result.

Errors in diagnosis can also lead to other common emergency room errors such as improper discharge. If a patient has been improperly diagnosed, they may be released to go home without receiving the care they need or with the wrong follow-up treatment information. This leads to things like the patient’s condition worsening or the development of other health issues. A diagnostic error may lead to the discharge of a patient that really should have been admitted to the hospital for further testing.

Diagnostic errors can also involve other common emergency room mistakes. For example, lab results are commonly misinterpreted in an emergency room setting. Furthermore, it is also common for a doctor to fail in the ordering of the appropriate tests in order to properly diagnose an emergency room patient.

Medication mistakes are also common in emergency rooms. A patient may be prescribed or administered the wrong medication during their stay at the hospital. In other cases,a patient allergy is not properly noted and medication triggering that allergy is admitted. There can also be errors in the dosage of the medication that is administered or ordered. All of these medication related errors can cause catastrophic, sometimes fatal, injuries to patients. 

Another common mistake to occur in an emergency room, also attributable to the chaotic setting and time pressure involved, is mistakes in the actual performance of a procedure. ER doctors and nurses must handle a wide range of medical issues, and sometimes this means that a doctor or nurse may have limited or no experience handling a particular medical condition and will have to perform a procedure that they have never had to do before. This, of course, increases the likelihood of errors occurring during the procedure.

Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorneys

If you have been to the emergency room and received substandard medical care that led to an injury, a worsening of a health condition, or the development of a new health condition, you may be able to seek compensation for the harm you have suffered. A medical malpractice claim allows you to do this and the dedicated medical malpractice attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy are prepared to fight to enforce your legal rights. Contact us today.