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Triage Errors

Emergency rooms are notorious for having long wait times no matter where they are in the world. Most of us have heard terrifying tales of patients who had to wait for hours to see a doctor or who were sent home without even being seen. These delays may lead to a condition getting worse, missing the chance to treat it in time, or even death. The length of hospital wait times can be caused by a variety of factors. Society has been blaming COVID-19 surges and staffing shortages in recent years. However, this issue is not brand-new, and the pandemic only added to the fragility of a system that can cause irreparable harm to those who fall prey to errors made in the ER. A hospital may be liable for injuries brought on by medical malpractice when negligence results in delays.  If you were harmed in an emergency room, you should discuss your situation with medical malpractice lawyers DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. We aim for the best outcome for those who suffered injury due to the medical negligence of a doctor or nurse.  We help clients throughout Upstate New York, with offices in multiple convenient locations. Our extensive experience in the medical malpractice field is reflected in the results we have achieved for our clients. 

Timely treatment of patients with potentially severe injuries should be the goal of an emergency room. This is especially true for patients who have serious illnesses or conditions that pose a risk to their life, such as those who have undergone trauma like a car accident  or who have signs of a stroke, heart attack, appendicitis, or another condition.

In essence, triage is the hospital emergency department's air traffic controller. Each emergency room has a triage nurse who will evaluate and classify the patient. A triage physician will occasionally assist with the task. The triage nurse or doctor's job is crucial in sorting through the influx of patients at the emergency room to determine who needs urgent medical attention and in what order they should be treated. This is the area where errors could cause a patient's death to be considered wrongful.

In medicine, the term "triage" refers to grading patients' levels of urgency in accordance with their conditions. When an ER isn't busy and doctors are available to see new patients right away, it isn't as crucial. However, this is typically not the case. Proper triage can mean the difference between life and death in overcrowded ERs.

ERs do not operate on a first-come, first-served basis. If a steady stream of patients with higher triage ratings enters the hospital, patients with lower ratings may have a long wait. The goal of triage policies and practices is to prevent patients from dying or suffering additional injuries. But just like any other system, their policies and procedures occasionally have flaws, which can be made worse if the staff members in the emergency room are incompetent.

An emergency room error can cause serious health problems for a patient if ER nurses and staff don't follow triage policies and procedures or if these policies and procedures are poorly designed. Serious personal injuries or death may result from a hospital emergency room's failure to promptly treat a seriously injured patient.

Usually, emergency room triage calls for the following actions from the on-duty staff:

  • Gather information about the patient and their symptoms.
  • Analyze the information to determine the patient's triage level.
  • Administer medical care following the assigned triage level.
  • Gather the patient’s critical data (temperature, blood pressure, etc.).

The triage level that an ER staff assigns a patient may not be appropriate for their medical condition if they have not properly evaluated their symptoms. When it comes to making sure the patient fully discloses all their symptoms, a medical provider might be careless. In situations like these, potentially fatal conditions like a heart attack may be mistaken for non-life-threatening ones like a panic attack. Healthcare workers must check and identify the symptoms of silent killers like heart attacks and strokes right away. They have received training to recognize this condition in patients. It may be considered medical malpractice if they fail to treat the patient.

For a free consultation, contact the Upstate New York medical malpractice lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano if you or a loved one suffered harm or passed away because of a delay at the ER. We represent injured clients and their families throughout Upstate New York, including Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, Elmira, Binghamton, Auburn, Ithaca, Oswego, Norwich, Herkimer, Delhi, Cooperstown, Cortland, Lowville, Oneida, Watertown, Utica, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Lyons, and surrounding areas.  Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form to discuss your case.

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