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The most common causes of emergency room errors

When patients in the Detroit area go to the emergency room, either on their own or via ambulance, it is because they need immediate and prompt medical care.

As a result, emergency rooms are often high-stress places, with doctors and other staff having to work quickly to treat patients, oftentimes saving their lives in the process. As with any other high-stress environment, mistakes are more likely to happen.

For this reason, doctors and other medical professionals who work in emergency rooms have to be on guard against emergency room errors and other issues that lead to patients being in a worsened condition or even dying.

Even medical malpractice insurers acknowledge that the data shows that medical professionals are at least partially responsible for most of these critical errors.

In over half of all cases, some problem with the way doctors evaluated their patients played a role. Usually, the problem involved a misdiagnosis due to a doctor's going with his gut and not considering other possible diagnoses or even doing appropriate testing.

In some cases, a patient who needed to stay put got sent home from the emergency room, perhaps because the staff was simply in too big of a hurry to fully evaluate the patient's condition.

Another factor leading to errors in the emergency room include bad communication either with the patient or even with other staff. Not reviewing or noting important medical information was also a factor. Perhaps not surprisingly, being too busy or short staffed was also a common problem.

The data showed that on too many occasions, people who showed signs of a life-threatening medical problem waited for hours before being seen. By the time staff got to them, it was too late to avoid injury.

Being in a high-stress environment is not an excuse for medical malpractice. A Michigan patient or patient's family who has been injured because of emergency room errors may have the right to pursue compensation.

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Michael T. Ratton
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