Medical errors are, unfortunately, prevalent in our healthcare systems. Some are mere mistakes that are quickly corrected, but others have more severe consequences. There are an estimated 250,000 deaths per year in the U.S. because of medical errors.

Emergency Room staff must make decisions quickly. However, this sometimes means that they are often the site of error. A study from Journal Diagnosis looks at the medical errors in emergency departments of hospitals.

Why do errors happen?

Errors are most common in information processing by medical professionals, rather than from inadequate information. This means that they come from human mistakes. In other words, doctors have the knowledge they need, but may be using it incorrectly. Here is a breakdown of how medical errors in this study occurred:

  • 45% of cases had issues with information processing
  • 31% had issues with verifying information
  • 18% had inadequate information gathering
  • 13% were misjudgments of the significance or premature diagnosis
  • 6% had issues with inadequate knowledge

What are the consequences of medical errors?

Medical errors can have a wide array of consequence. Misdiagnosis can be a result of incorrect information processing, the top medical mistake in emergency rooms. This can lead to improper or unnecessary treatment, even including invasive ones. This can cause added issues and leave the real problem untreated.

Healthcare providers may also downplay symptoms, meaning that they do not recognize the severity of an issue and subsequentially do not treat it correctly. Medication errors are another dangerous error than is made. Patients may receive incorrect medications or wrong dosages, which can be life threatening.

Don’t let doctors downplay your symptoms and always overcommunicate your experiences. Do your best to stay aware of what is happening and ask questions while getting treatment.