Helping the Injured in Tennessee Since 1977

Risks associated with emergency medicine

Tennessee residents may be interested in understanding why physicians in emergency medicine are being targeted by lawsuits. According to researchers, failure to diagnose was the primary cause of patient injuries and the most common claims associated with emergency room physicians. Because the patients are typically unfamiliar and suffering a broad spectrum of health conditions, physicians in emergency medicine are subject to diagnosis-based lawsuits more often than any other healthcare specialist.

A six-year study of over 330 emergency medicine claims attributed 57 percent of patients' allegations to issues related to a diagnostic failure, including failure to consider clinical information available and failing in differential diagnosis. The leading cause for the failure to diagnose, accounting for 52 percent, was described to be inadequate patient assessment. Managing treatment improperly was the second-highest patient complaint, accounting for approximately 13 percent of the allegations. These patients may have suffered paraplegia due to medical staff failing to stabilize the neck following an accident involving neck or head trauma.

Failure to review medical records or communicate properly with other are providers accounted for 17 percent of the patient injuries. More than 20 percent of the injuries were attributable to the lack of equipment available to adequately provide treatment in spite of difficult patient factors, such as obesity. Poor communication between health providers and patients' relatives contributed to 14 percent of the injuries suffered in this sector. These incidents often were due to poor execution of the follow-up directions due to significant language barriers.

Patients who are injured due to an emergency facility's shortcomings may be entitled to receive damages for the losses incurred as a result. Legal counsel can investigate the complaints and help identify the parties who can be deemed responsible for the emergency room errors.


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