Emergency physicians are often at the frontline to provide acute care to patients who present without an appointment. The unplanned nature of patient arrivals means that emergency doctors can face broad spectrum of illness and injures while under a considerable amount of pressure. Some conditions may be life-threatening and require a doctor’s immediate attention. A medical malpractice insurer conducted a study of 332 emergency medicine claims revealed the four most common patient allegations:
- Diagnostic-related concerns —Physicians failed to establish a differential diagnosis or failed to consider available clinical information
- Inadequately managing treatment — For example, the doctors failed to stabilize an accident victim’s head which then resulted in paraplegia
- Improperly performing a procedure or treatment — this included intubation of the respiratory tract
- Failing to order appropriate medication — such as not initiating a specified therapy for a stroke victim within the recommended time frames
According to the study, 57 percent of cases involved inadequate patient assessment which researchers noted as the number-one contributor to failures in diagnosis. This included not using available clinical information. Other factors that were identified as contributing to patient injury included:
- Patient factors, such as obesity, which sometimes caused delays in treatment due to inadequate equipment, for example in treating or evaluating obese patients and having the properly sized gurney for transportation.
- Communication among providers, including failing to review the medical record.
- Communication between patient or family members and the provider, including inadequate follow-up instructions or language variances.
- Insufficient or lack of documentation, including inadequate documentation about clinical findings.
- Workflow and workload complaints that included limited staff or services available at night, on the weekend or on holidays.
Emergency medicine practitioners are usually the first to diagnose and the first to make the wrong diagnosis. The results of this study highlight the areas where providers can improve on patient safety. As a patient, you can reduce your risks of misdiagnosis by providing your physician with a complete and thorough medical history. Contact a skilled Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney for more information. If you have any questions on this blog or need information on other personal injury queries, please call the Law offices of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath located in West Palm Beach at 1-800 4-RIGHTS (1-800- 474-4487) We welcome your call and look forward to helping you.