Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Overcrowding in an emergency department issue for patient too

Sometimes emergency rooms become crowded. By definition an emergency is not easily predicted, nor are the numbers of emergency visits a hospital will experience. Even though it is hard to predict how busy an emergency department may become each night, it doesn't allow a hospital to drop its standard of care. But are they doing it anyway?

According to a recent research study, the risk of mortality while being treated in an emergency room rises by 5 percent when a hospital is so busy that they have to redirect ambulances to other locations.

The most obvious answer to this dangerous phenomenon is that busy EDs means busy staff members. Doctors and nurses rushing care in order to clear a waiting list leaves open room for error. A quick scan of a patient chart, x-ray and electrocardiogram test versus a full read could lead to a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. A nurse rushing to push the buttons on an IV-drip could miscalculate the dosage. Lastly, overworked often means fatigue and a lowered decision-making ability.

According to the research it wasn't just the misdiagnosis and medical errors but the failure to treat or catch time-sensitive conditions such as a heart attack or pneumonia before they become fatal for the patient.

Last, and less surprising is that admission costs on busy night also increase as does the time that the patient actually spends in the hospital, both resulting in a higher medical bill overall. We all know that medical care isn't cheap.

Source: Med Page Today, "Crowded EDs May Be Serious Health Hazard," Chrystal Phend, Dec. 12, 2012

Our Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice page provides information for victims as well as access to experienced representatives who can help.

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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