Medical errors are estimated to cause 251,000 deaths per year in the US with less than 10 percent of errors ever being reported. Preventable emergency room mistakes occur frequently, and can lead to patient harm and even death. Research on admitted patients has suggested that errors are due to the way doctors process the information they have about patients — ultimately, doctors have the correct information, but might not act on it in the best way.
Stats & Research
The emergency department is a very different clinical environment from the inpatient wards, with frequent interruptions and often incomplete or unreliable information. Despite this, a study published in in 2018 suggests the most frequently identified type of error (45% of cases) was problems with information processing, followed by problems with verifying information that was gathered (31%). Inadequate knowledge problems (6%) and inadequate information gathering (18%) occurred relatively infrequently. Misjudging how significant a finding was and prematurely deciding on an incorrect diagnosis were the individual errors that occurred most frequently (13% each).
The study also found that patients with abdominal complaints may be particularly vulnerable to these errors.
Overall, the more common mistakes in emergency rooms may include:
- Failure to admit a patient
- Releasing a patient too soon
- Failure to refer a patient to a specialist
- Medication errors
- Intubation/Airway errors resulting in temporary or permanent breathing problems
- Laboratory errors and misinterpretation of X-rays and other tests
When You Need Help
When entering a hospital for a medical emergency, patients expect to receive the proper care and attention they need to maintain or improve health. When a negligent physician or facility fails in this endeavor, there are legal actions that can aid in recovery.
Dr. Sawyer understands that medical errors occur and that through the Quality Improvement process these errors can be addressed and fixed such that they don’t occur again. When so few incidents are reported, the process of malpractice litigation helps to bring these types of errors come to the forefront of the health care profession.
If you believe that you, or a family member, has been harmed by errors in the hospital or emergency room, contact The Law Offices of Dr. Russell W. Sawyer for a free consultation.
Contact the Law Offices of Dr. Russell W. Sawyer for a free consultation. We can be reached by email or by phone at (707) 888-1118. We represent clients throughout California.