Emergency Room Blunders In America: A Perspective


Emergency RoomIf you think that your corporate office is pretty toxic, consider yourself lucky, nonetheless. You’re still not working as a medical professional in duty at the emergency department (ED), particularly in the ER. That place is perhaps the most hectic and tension-filled of all. There, deadlines often border on life or death situations, and even the simplest blunder can cost someone’s life or health status.

It’s why any type of assistance, like an emergency department management program, can be of great help. But no ED is completely safe from problems. A few statistics and relevant pieces of data serve as proof of the place’s tension-filled nature.

Human Error

A study published on the online portal BMC Emergency Medicine claims that most ED mistakes that compromise patient safety are due to human error. 522 total blunders were reported, with 85 percent of the mistakes being made by nurses. In-house doctors only committed 13 percent, and clerical staff a mere 2 percent. It’s also worth noting that the errors were mostly committed during daytime (44 percent), compared to night time (34 percent).

And when medical staff is at fault, patients mostly suffer the consequences. They are often left to wait far longer than their medical conditions would allow. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, patients whose situations required immediate attention (1 to 14 minutes) waited over half an hour on average to see a doctor. This can get worse during the holidays and similar dates.

The Waiting Game

Much of the cases of compromised patient safety can be attributed to long waiting times. That said, how long of an ER/ED wait is too long? Understand that a hospital is a pretty hectic place firsthand. There is always a case that’s actually much more serious than what others think, thus requiring more immediate attention than most.

Patients must take several steps to ensure that they receive immediate care. First, is the situation really an emergency? Unusual, sudden severe symptoms warrant a quick response. Calling 911 is a good method. Also, keep in mind that patients are never seen on a first-come, first serve basis. Thus, it helps that upon a first assessment by the attending medical professional, a patient must be as knowledgeable as possible about the symptoms to prompt immediate action.

No amount of automation can solve ER/ED blunders, yet. It all relies on human competence, both from the patient and the attending medical professional.

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