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Barber Law

Be wary of emergency room errors: They happen all too often

Emergency rooms are hectic, crowded places -- and doctors have to think on their feet, often after working long hours under strenuous conditions.

It turns out that might be a recipe for disaster more often than people realize. An estimated 250,000 people every year die from medical mistakes -- and untold numbers are injured. Anybody who finds themselves in an emergency room is always well-advised to take some basic precautions to avoid becoming part of those statistics, like:

  • Carrying a list of medications and dosages
  • Having a complete list of medical conditions and medical history, including surgeries
  • Keeping a primary care physician's name and number on hand
  • Taking a friend or relative with them to the emergency room, when possible, to help watch for issues and act as an advocate

However, even doing all that might not be enough to keep you from falling victim to a doctor's error in the emergency room.

The evidence says that up to 10 percent of all emergency room visits go wrong -- and not because the doctor doesn't have all the information necessary to make the right decision. Most medical mistakes come down to processing errors: Doctors simply misinterpret the data they do have. In general, it's estimated that 60 percent of medical mistakes come down to nothing more than human error.

How do you know if what happened to you or your loved one in a hospital was just "one of those things" that was unavoidable or an actual medical mistake? Often, it's hard to tell -- but the statistics indicate that you should always be suspicious.

If you're not sure whether what happened to you or your loved one was a medical mistake, talk to an attorney who handles medical negligence claims. Sometimes, it can take a little digging before a situation becomes clear.

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