Emergency Room Errors in New Jersey During the Holidays
During the holiday season, you find it everywhere you go: more people, more congestion, more stress, more exhaustion–and if you are in an emergency room–more mistakes. Hospitals and emergency care centers are always bustling with patients, doctors, and other staff; however, these places become particularly inundated during the holidays. Cold and flu season, heart disease and cardiac-related events, conditions triggered or exacerbated by stress, heavy foods, and excessive alcohol consumption: these are just some of the reasons why emergency rooms are flooded with patients during the holidays. With more people seeking treatment, doctors and medical staff often work longer hours, cramming more patients into each shift. Overworked and over-exhausted, emergency room doctors and staff can make even more mistakes with the potential to cause serious, or even fatal harm to patients.
According to the most recent data from the United States Centers for Disease Control, there are over 136 million emergency room visits in America each year. Among these patients, an estimated 5 to 10 percent will become victims of some form of medical error. The Harvard Medical Practice Study discovered that emergency rooms were the third-leading sites of adverse events in hospitals, and that 70 percent of these events were attributable to negligence. Further, a study out of Utah and Colorado reported that emergency departments had the highest percentage of preventable adverse events resulting from negligence. Considering that a typical emergency department is subject to high-volume, fast-paced, often life-or-death situations, one can begin to understand that the additional pressure of the holidays can quickly tip the balance toward more mistakes.
Emergency Room Medical Errors
Medical errors can take a myriad of forms, from failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis, to medication and surgical errors. One form of emergency room negligence that can be particularly prevalent during the holidays is the worsening of a condition while waiting for treatment. The Government Accountability Office reported that patients who should have been seen within a 1 to 14-minute time frame were forced to wait an average of 37 minutes before being examined by a doctor. Further, those whose condition required immediate treatment were left to wait an average of 28 minutes. Considering the way in which a serious medical condition, such as a heart attack or stroke, can progress within that time frame, these wait times can easily turn fatal.
It is important to note, however, that quick patient turnaround is not always the goal. In fact, errors frequently occur when doctors attempt to diagnose and treat patients too quickly. If a doctor rushes to a conclusion, perhaps diagnosing a patient with a less serious condition, he or she may fail to order the additional diagnostic tests necessary to discover a more severe underlying condition. Taking a thorough approach to examination is essential to ensure an accurate diagnosis, and this process simply cannot be curtailed without posing a significant risk to the patient.
Another common form of negligence during the holidays occurs during the transition of emergency room doctors and staff between shifts. Medical errors due to miscommunication among treating professionals are extremely common. As doctors and nurses end their shifts, they must comprehensively inform their replacements of the conditions and potential risks to their patients. With excessive stress, exhaustion, and too many patients, critical information can very often fall through the cracks. Patients are even more at risk of falling victim to this phenomenon during the holidays.
Contact our New Jersey Emergency Room Injury Lawyers
The above examples represent merely a fraction of the overwhelming number of potential errors that may occur in emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and critical care departments during the holiday season. If you or someone you love has suffered harm due to the negligence of doctors or medical staff in an emergency room in New Jersey, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. At Fronzuto Law Group, our attorneys work diligently to achieve maximum compensation for medical malpractice victims and their families. Contact our Passaic County offices today at 973-435-4551 to discuss your situation and receive a cost-free consultation.
- Leape LL, Brennan TA, Laird N, Lawthers AG, Localio AR, Barnes BA, Hebert L, Newhouse JP, Weiler PC, Hiatt H: The nature of adverse events in hospitalized patients: results of the Harvard medical practice study II.
- Thomas EJ, Studdert DM, Burstin HR, Orav EJ, Zeena T, Williams EJ, Howard KM, Weiler PC, Brennan TA: Incidence and types of adverse events and negligent care in Utah and Colorado.