When patients rush to the emergency room, they often feel panicked about what is happening with their health. Their pain and symptoms tell them that something is wrong, but they rely on the expertise of emergency physicians and staff to fill in the blanks and provide them with medical guidance. Accurate diagnoses often require significant testing within the emergency room. Failure to perform adequate testing can prove fatal for the emergency room patient.
Why emergency room testing goes undone
Emergency rooms are distinctive medical environments, with characteristics that are unique from traditional medical offices, as well as other departments within the hospital. The very nature of the emergency room means that physicians and staff members must act with an increased level of urgency, which can result in emergency room errors. Many patients get lost in the shuffle and miss out on valuable tests that could save their lives. Some common conditions that worsen without the adequate emergency room testing include:
- Bowel obstruction or leakage
- Internal bleeding
- Brain aneurysms
- Blood clots
- Cardiac problems
Without an adequate diagnosis, any of these conditions can quickly become life-threatening for the patient. If medical staff members are unaware that these problems exist, they cannot provide timely treatment. Some of the reasons for inadequate testing include:
- ER staff may underestimate the severity of the patient’s symptoms, delaying essential testing or missing it altogether. For example, a woman presents in an emergency room after falling and hitting her head on a concrete floor. She complains of dizziness and lethargy, but her vital signs are within a normal range. The treating nurse decides that there is no urgency and leaves her to wait while other patients are treated. Two hours later, the woman is discovered unresponsive. CAT scans reveal a blood clot in her brain that eventually kills the woman. Timely testing could have revealed the blood clot in time to save the woman’s life.
- Many emergency rooms are inundated with more patients than they are equipped to handle. A study by The Kaiser Family Foundation found that Washington DC hospitals maintain some of the nation’s highest ER wait times. The national average is 28 minutes, while Washington DC hospitals average 46 minutes. Overcrowding could potentially lead to missed testing, as staff members attempt to operate under strict time limitations.
- Many emergency rooms are inadequately staffed to handle the number of patients they routinely see. This may mean that patients do not receive necessary tests because there is no one available to perform them. In other cases, even when the tests are completed, patients are discharged before the results are properly analyzed.
Skilled representation in Maryland and Washington D.C. when emergency rooms fail to adequately test for life-threatening conditions
Inadequate or improper testing can delay life-saving treatment. If you or a family member did not receive reasonable treatment while under emergency room care, call the skilled Baltimore and Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys at Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. We have the knowledge and experience to help you obtain compensation. With offices in Maryland and Washington DC, we fight back when emergency rooms cause harm to their patients. Call us at 410-234-1000 or complete our contact form for a case review.