4 Common Dangers Inside Emergency Rooms
We are dependent on emergency rooms (ERs) to provide care during disastrous situations such as car accidents, falls or acute illnesses. However, sometimes ERs can have hidden dangers that cause patient injuries and deaths. By knowing what some of these risks are, patients can better protect themselves and their families.
- Emergency rooms can be overcrowded, and staff may feel compelled by hospital administrators to move as many people through as quickly as possible. Not spending enough time on each patient can cause doctors and other medical professionals to overlook important information that could prevent medical errors, such as medication errors or misdiagnosis.
- While receiving care in an emergency room, patients can be passed around through several departments. When patients are handed off to other doctors and nurses, the risk of medical mistakes can increase. It is estimated by the Joint Commission, a health care institution accreditation organization, that 80 percent of medical errors occur when doctors hand off patients.
- Sanitation is more difficult inside emergency rooms. Doctors and nurses are performing diagnostic tests on multiple patients every hour, and the risk of forgetting to wash hands is constantly present. This can allow bacteria and viruses to spread to other patients.
- Patients can be sent home without receiving the level of care needed to treat their conditions. This can make for repeat trips to the ER, which is not only costly, but dangerous. In other cases, patients are sent home and never return because they have died. For example, a patient sent home with a stomach ache that has appendicitis may lose his or her life.
Being Aware of Emergency Room Dangers Can Contribute to Patient Safety
These four errors are not the only mistakes capable of happening when receiving care in emergency rooms, although they are among the most common. Future blog updates will offer advice on how patients can decrease the risk of being affected by these common emergency room medical mistakes.