When you hear about a patient being misdiagnosed, it's often because their radiologist incorrectly read their X-rays, or their specialist didn't order the right tests. The truth of the matter is that of all doctors, emergency room doctors are most apt to erroneously diagnose a patient.
There are two primary reasons that emergency room physicians misdiagnose patients.
First, doctors who work in emergency rooms often see individuals suffering from a variety of conditions from head to toe where specialists often see patients with limited complaints. Also, while a specialist may see a patient several times, an emergency room physician generally only meets their patient a single time when they come in needing their help.
Researchers who worked on a 2015 study for The Doctors Company found that more than 50 percent of medical malpractice cases filed against emergency room physicians in between 2007 and 2013 were related to diagnostic issues.
Other reasons that they were filed had to with emergency room doctors failing to properly manage their treatment. In some cases, patients alleged to have become paralyzed simply because their doctor failed to support their head or neck appropriately while in their care.
In other instances, doctors failed to provide patients with medication that was critical to managing their condition within a specified time frame. In other cases, malpractice cases that were filed against emergency room doctors stemmed from them improperly performing a procedure such as an intubation.
One factor that the researchers found likely led to diagnostic errors included poor communication, whether between those on the medical team or with family members of the patient.
Doctors in Georgia were also hindered from making accurate diagnoses because they didn't have access to proper equipment for treating patients needing special accommodations, such as obese patients. Limited staffing, especially at night, on the weekends or holidays also contributed to Augusta patients being misdiagnosed.
When most of us go to see a doctor, we expect them to have the expertise and experience to identify what ails us and to provide us with prompt treatment for it. Doctors make mistakes just like any other person would, though. This often results in declines in a patient's health or their death. It's critical that you have an experienced attorney in your corner when you're looking to prove that negligence occurred.