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Tampa Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Emergency Room Error > 7 Million People Misdiagnosed In ERs Every Year

7 Million People Misdiagnosed In ERs Every Year


When you go to the emergency room feeling extremely ill or injured, you expect to get appropriate medical care in a prompt manner. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Many people end up waiting hours to be seen. This is a serious enough issue, but what’s even worse is that misdiagnosis is common in an ER setting. It is one of the most common causes of medical malpractice.

Any medical condition can be misdiagnosed, but the most common ones are:

  • Stroke
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Aortic aneurysm/dissection
  • Venous thromboembolism
  • Spinal cord compression/injury
  • Meningitis and encephalitis
  • Sepsis
  • Lung cancer
  • Traumatic brain injury and traumatic intracranial hemorrhage
  • Arterial thromboembolism (a blood clot that develops in an artery)

The top five conditions accounted for nearly 40% of misdiagnosis-related mistakes that have led to serious harm. Stroke was missed 17% of the time due to patients experiencing two main symptoms: dizziness and vertigo. Forty percent of patients who had those two symptoms had their stroke misdiagnosed in the ER. Nonspecific symptoms were the strongest factor resulting in a misdiagnosis. Also, women and people of color faced up to a 30% increase in risk of being misdiagnosed.

This is a serious issue. Studies show that 7.4 million misdiagnosis errors are made in the ER every year. In addition, 2.6 million people suffer a preventable injury, while another 370,000 people are permanently disabled or killed due to misdiagnosis.

Most of these errors were attributed to inadequate knowledge or skills, particularly when a patient experienced unusual or subtle symptoms. While not all misdiagnoses are necessarily preventable, there is a huge discrepancy in the misdiagnosis rates across different hospitals, suggesting that improvement is possible in many facilities. The error rates also mirror those seen in inpatient settings.

However two medical groups — American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Board of Emergency Medicine — say that these statistics are misleading. They claim that the goal of emergency medicine is to focus on the acute and immediate situation. Emergency medicine is less concerned with diagnosis and more concerned with appropriate stabilization.  Because of this, the role of the emergency physician is ensuring that the patient is on the right path for diagnosis and treatment.

Another thing to consider is that much of the data was collected from emergency departments in Canada and Europe. While most medical specialties have similar training in Western nations, emergency medicine is an exception.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

Medical malpractice can happen in many ways. Many people are harmed due to diagnosis errors in the ER, which can be scary when someone is facing a life-threatening medical situation.

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in the ER, seek legal help from Tampa emergency room error attorney from Moore Law. Let us assess your case and advise you of the next steps. Schedule a free consultation today by filling out the online form or calling 813-510-5400.



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