Serving The Injured In New York And Pennsylvania

Misdiagnoses in emergency rooms and human error

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

When disaster strikes and we suffer a sudden serious illness or injury, we call 911 and are rushed off to the nearest hospital. But one study suggests that emergency rooms are not always the safest place to receive medical care.

Misdiagnoses are common in emergency rooms

The study examined the issue of misdiagnoses in emergency departments in the United States. It reveals that misdiagnoses occur at what some might find to be an alarming rate.

The study reports that 1 in 18 of patients treated in the emergency room is diagnosed with the wrong condition. One in 50 patients treated in the emergency room suffers an adverse event. One in 350 patients treated in the emergency room will ultimately suffer permanent disability or die.

Common mistakes leading to misdiagnoses

The study reports five medical conditions account for nearly 40% of serious misdiagnoses. These conditions include:

  • Strokes
  • Myocardial infarctions
  • Aortic aneurysm/dissections
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Venous thromboembolism

An emergency department misdiagnosis can occur due to cognitive mistakes made by the treating physician, that is, human error. For example, the treating physician could perform an improper clinical assessment, show a lack of reasoning or make poor decisions leading to patient harm.

Misdiagnoses can be an act of medical negligence

In the end, while some emergency room damages and deaths cannot be avoided, a misdiagnosis is generally a preventable event but for medical negligence.

Physicians are tasked with exercising the level of patient care that a similarly situated physician would practice. The failure to meet this standard can be considered a breach of a physician’s legal duty of care.

If, but for the breach, your condition would not have been made worse, and if the harm you suffered was anticipatory due to the breach, you might have a cause to pursue a legal claim based on medical negligence.