Most Mistakes in Emergency Departments Caused by Human Error

DoctorMedical malpractice can take many forms, and can occur in many settings. Although cases are always unique, they all involve doctors, nurses, or other health care providers who cause preventable injuries as a result of negligence, mistakes, and substandard care. When it comes to medical malpractice, many mistakes occur in the emergency room, and many of these mistakes result directly from medical professionals who make preventable errors. In fact, a recent study published in BMC Emergency Medicine found that most emergency department mistakes that compromised patient safety result from human error.

Emergency rooms are challenging medical settings, and there is often a sense of urgency when providing care. However, data collected by the study suggests that human error in emergency departments is alarmingly common. Here are some of the study’s findings:

  • In over 500 reported cases involving unintended events in emergency departments that harmed patients, or could have harmed patients, 60% were caused by human error; more than both organizational and technical errors combined.
  • Most errors in emergency departments (36%) occurred during tests or medical exams.
  • Nearly 10% of patients affected by error required extra intervention.

While researchers noted limitations in the study based on underreporting and events reported largely by nurses rather than physicians or specialists, it does serve to highlight that emergency departments are not insulated from preventable medical mistakes. In fact, these mistakes may have greater potential to result in adverse outcomes compared to treatment provided in non-emergency settings. Researchers are also hopeful that the study’s findings will prompt further studies into preventable errors and unintended events in order to increase patient safety.

Your Rights After an Emergency Room Error

Although there are inherent risks when it comes to emergency medical care, and while there are injuries or illnesses that may not be treatable, all patients are entitled to be treated in accordance to acceptable medical standards, known as the standard of care. This means that when medical professionals in an emergency room fail to act as a reasonable medical professional would under similar circumstances or otherwise commit unacceptable errors due to negligence, they can be held liable for resulting injuries suffered by patients.

As a Cleveland-based practice recognized among the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News in the areas of medical malpractice and personal injury litigation, Spangenberg Shibley & Liber, our legal team has extensive experience handling cases involving medical errors. These include errors that occur in emergency departments, such as misdiagnoses, failure to diagnose, misinterpretation of test results, medication errors, delayed treatment, infections, surgical errors, and more. In the most serious cases, these errors can result in life-altering injuries, or even wrongful death.

Fast-paced environments or over-worked medical staff never justify inexcusable errors, which is why victims have the right to pursue a financial recovery of their damages following emergency room errors. These include economic damages such as medical expenses and lost past and future wages, and noneconomic damages that include victims’ pain and suffering and mental anguish. Because these cases are difficult, and because they are challenged aggressively by medical care providers and insurers, it becomes critical that victims have proven and experienced advocates in their corner.

Our Cleveland medical malpractice attorneys are passionate about leveraging our experience and insight in these cases for the benefit of our clients. We also work closely with medical professionals who can provide expert opinions regarding the nature of medical errors and substandard care that causes preventable harm. If you have questions regarding an emergency room error or any other instance of medical malpractice, we encourage you to learn more about your rights and what our firm can do to help.

To request a FREE consultation, call (216) 600-0114.


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