Study reveals most common emergency room errors

Mistakes in emergency rooms in Iowa happen, and a recent study reveals the four most common types of errors and the factors that cause them.

A trip to the emergency room is typically filled with stress and even fear. The issues brought to an ER in Iowa can range from a child with a fever to someone with a catastrophic injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans make approximately 136.3 million visits to the ER on an annual basis.

Unfortunately for some people, going to the emergency room can actually mean the situation becomes worse, not better. A recent study evaluated the errors that medical professionals most commonly make in the ER.

Identifying the errors

The Doctors Company, which is a medical malpractice insurer owned by physicians, conducted a review of claims that arose from emergency room visits between 2007 and 2013. Researchers analyzed 332 claims, each of which had already been closed. The following reflect the four most common errors that were made:

  • Failure to diagnose, which arose in 57 percent of cases
  • Failure to properly manage a patient's care, 13 percent
  • Failure to properly execute a patient's care, 5 percent
  • Failure to order medication for a patient

The outcome of any of these issues can be devastating, and even fatal.

Identifying the contributing factors

The researchers in this study also identified the factors that led to these errors. Chief among them is an issue with assessing a patient correctly, which was evident in 52 percent of the above claims. This could mean failing to order a test to diagnose a patient or discharging the patient prematurely.

Communication was also a leading factor, accounting for 17 percent of the claims. These mistakes include emergency room providers who do not communicate with each other or with the patient, or failing to simply give a patient's medical chart a thorough review. Poor documentation and insufficient staffing are also some of the explanations for why these mistakes occur.

Preventing the problem

After evaluating the factors that lead to these mistakes, ways to prevent the issues become clear. There should be procedures in place to open the lines of communication among a patient's providers and between the doctor and patient. Systems should be established so physicians can see past a narrow view of a diagnosis and review the possible tests that may need to be ordered.

People in Iowa who fall victim to a medical professional's negligence have the option of pursuing compensation through legal means. Under state law, patients have two years from the date they knew or should have known about the injury to initiate a claim. People who have concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Iowa.