Emergency rooms are key points of access for those with medical challenges. If someone does not have a referral from their primary care physician and cannot wait for an office appointment, the emergency room can help them connect with immediate medical evaluation. People can receive life-saving care right in an emergency room or a rapid evaluation that leads to hospital admission.
Unfortunately, emergency rooms can be quite busy. The people working there do not treat patients on a first-come, first-served basis. Instead, they apply medical triage rules to establish patient priority. Those rules may lead to unfavorable outcomes for some individuals.
What the triage process involves
The nurses, physician assistants and other professionals working in an emergency room have to make rapid judgments about the condition of those seeking care. Not only do they need to carefully consider whether someone is in immediate need of medical treatment, but they must also consider how likely they are to benefit from it.
Someone who is unlikely to survive their injury or medical condition may not receive the same degree of priority as someone in critical condition who might respond to treatment. Additionally, clear medical emergencies may take precedence over matters that might seem less severe. Unfortunately, a combination of internal bias, distraction in a high-pressure environment and miscommunication might lead to people waiting for care when they need immediate help.
Emergency room mistakes can have dire consequences for patients who do not receive the timely care that they require. Establishing that other medical professionals would have understood the situation better could help someone develop a medical malpractice claim related to an emergency room mistake.