When you have to go to the emergency room, your thought is that the medical team there will be intelligent and quick to diagnose a variety of illnesses and injuries. They’ll have the skills they need to make life-changing decisions in situations where a mistake could lead to fatal consequences.
Despite the fact that emergency rooms should be filled with the best and brightest, there are times when those doing their rounds do make medical mistakes and miss or ignore serious symptoms that could harm or kill patients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 10% of all emergency room visits have some kind of medical error. With over 100 million visits to the emergency room annually in the United States, that means that there could be up to 10 million mistakes made that people know about.
The shocking statistics show that it’s not uncommon for an error to happen or to harm someone. If you have to go to the ER, keep in mind these ways to protect yourself.
5 ways to protect yourself from ER mistakes
In the ER, there are a few things you can do to help your doctors and attendants avoid mistakes.
- Bring a list of your medications and allergies, so they know what they can or cannot give you to treat your symptoms.
- Tell the team about any of your current diagnoses and if you’ve had something like this before, so they can rule out conditions you’ve dealt with in the past.
- Don’t minimize symptoms. Tell them everything, so they can run the tests they need to perform.
- Remember to let them know if you’ve traveled recently to rule out foreign illnesses.
- Tell each and every person your name. Confirm information on each medication that comes to you. Verify that they’re taking your concerns seriously, and reiterate them if you feel they are not.
While patients shouldn’t be burdened with double-checking their medical providers, speaking up for yourself can help prevent errors that could lead to illness, injury or death. If you do get hurt in the ER, remember that negligence or errors could constitute malpractice and that you may have a claim.