In an emergency, people want answers. They want to know why they’re hurting or why someone they love is dealing with a life-threatening condition. When patients are in the emergency room, they and their family believe that they are in trouble and need medical assistance.
Unfortunately, around four out of every 100,000 emergency room visits end up in patients claiming malpractice. In one CRICO Strategies National CBS Report, it was found that 47% of those cases involved a failure to diagnose the right condition (or any condition at all).
In another CRICO report that reviewed over 300,000 medical malpractice cases, 16% of all of the cases involving diagnostic process errors happened in emergency departments.
What goes wrong that leads to a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose?
Based on the statistics, many cases were a result of lapses in clinical judgment. This may mean that a doctor didn’t order a diagnostic test that they should have understood or misunderstood the data that was returned to them. Failing to establish differential diagnoses or to get referrals or consults were also issues in these cases.
What can patients and their families do?
If you being treated in the emergency room or are accompanying someone you love, don’t be afraid to speak up and to ask. If there is any information you have that could help a medical provider get a diagnosis, then tell them.
If you feel that they are not paying enough attention to your loved one or that they have missed the mark on the diagnosis, ask for a transfer or second opinion. Then, look into your legal rights if you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of a medical provider’s errors.