Are Emergency Rooms Sending Patients Home Too Early?
It is no secret that physicians, nurses, and staff in a hospital’s emergency department can get extremely busy with patient care. It is no secret that physicians, nurses, and staff in a hospital’s emergency department can get extremely busy with patient care There are, however, times when emergency room staff overlook something in a medical chart or neglect to ask questions that are vital to care. A report by emergency department risk managers outlines areas of oversight.
- Poor risk factor analysis. Hospitals fail to ask family history questions of patients presenting with certain conditions, like chest pains.
- Up-to-date on shots? Failure of emergency room staff to verify a child’s immunization status.
- Following the pain path. Failure to document radiating pain is critical in ruling out and diagnosing the complaint, especially in chest and abdominal pain.
- Patients sent home with abnormal vital signs. Sixteen percent of patients sent home with at least one abnormal vital sign, were never re-evaluated.
- No pain medication. The report shows that for hundreds of patients that go to the emergency room with moderate to severe pain, less than 10% of them receive pain medication within 60 minutes of arrival.
- Re-evaluate. Failure to refer patients to a specialist for re-evaluation of their complaint.
- Poor discharge instructions. Discharge instructions should warn patients of how their injury/illness could affect others.
- Incomplete charts. It is the standard of care to run a work-up on the organ system for which the patient has a complaint. Documentation of the exam is missing from a large number of records.
If you or a loved one were permanently injured after an emergency room visit, see if you have a medical malpractice case.