Emergency rooms are where people gain admission to the hospital when they need immediate care for serious concerns. Unfortunately, emergency rooms are actually where millions of diagnostic errors occur every year.
Emergency room errors are a patient safety plague. According to research into the efficacy of care at emergency rooms in the United States, diagnostic errors are a daily issue. Roughly seven million patients seeking emergency care in the United States each year will end up negatively affected by a diagnostic mistake.
Why are emergency room errors so common?
Occasionally, overworked emergency room employees reach the wrong diagnosis. Other times, they don’t properly evaluate someone and fail to diagnose them entirely. People get sent away from emergency rooms without any information about the cause of their symptoms or treatment. Such mistakes can be very significant if the patient experiences a major event, like a stroke or a cardiac issue.
There are multiple reasons that diagnostic errors in emergency rooms are so common. One factor is the amount of pressure on the employees. They have to see and evaluate dozens of people per shift, which may lead to them rushing through interactions or reaching the wrong conclusion in some cases.
Communication issues are also a leading cause of emergency room errors. Patients and their family members may struggle to properly communicate their circumstances with healthcare providers, and someone who speaks with a patient during their initial intake may fail to properly note the conversation that they have had with the patient, resulting in other employees not having a full understanding of the situation.
Those seeking care at emergency rooms often need to be advocates on their own behalf to get appropriate treatment. Similarly, filing a medical malpractice claim can be a reasonable response when a diagnostic error at an emergency room leads to preventable medical challenges for a patient.