Most of us have unfortunately experienced the waiting that seems to last forever in a hospital emergency room. Emergency rooms are overcrowded and understaffed, and because of this, medical mistakes and mishaps on the increase.
One of the most prevalent problems found in ERs around the nation is the amount of time patients have to wait before being diagnosed. Hospitals utilize their Triage departments to make the initial diagnosis and determine which patients are the most urgent. Though Triage personnel are not doctors, they are nurses, but these nurses sometimes misdiagnose seriously injured patients.
According to the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, hospitals with larger ER volumes tend to have longer total ER times when compared to other hospitals. The 10 hospital emergency rooms with the longest total ER times were in Chicago. Eight of those ten were in the suburbs or Chicago. The average wait time in an Illinois ER was 260 minutes, which is better than the national average of 274 minutes but not by much.
Overcrowding in ER Departments nationwide leads to a decrease in the quality of treatment as well. More than half of the malpractice cases are attributed to the misdiagnosis of patients.
Other common problems occurring in emergency rooms are:
- Symptoms that are misjudged (often more severe than thought to be)
- Delay in diagnosis (for example, a patient with an aneurism sent home with Tylenol for a headache)
- Wrong diagnosis from medical staff other than the doctors (nurses, interns, and others who do not have the training for more complex cases)
- Tests read wrong or not ordered when they should have been
- Understaffed and unable to responsibly treat and monitor volume of patients
- Unsanitary conditions
Though overcrowding in the ER places the department in a difficult position, it is not acceptable for patients to be misdiagnosed, or harmed because of the failure of trained medical personnel to follow appropriate hospital procedures.
Emergency room laws differ from other medical laws because time is a principal factor. At Passen Law, we are knowledgeable of emergency room standards, procedures and laws that must be upheld. If you or a loved one have suffered what you believe to be a preventable injury or unnecessary death, contact us at (312) 527-4500 and we can determine if you do indeed have a medical negligence or malpractice case.