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Why are Emergency Medicine Physicians Sued?
A recent study reported that ER physicians “are more prone to be sued for diagnosis-related issues than many other specialists because they treat patients who are unknown to them and who have a broad range of clinical problems.”
Investigators studied 322 ER claims over a period of seven years and found, in the top three causes of ER lawsuits:
- 57 percent were due to diagnostic-related issues
- 13 percent were due to improper management of treatment
- 3 percent were due to failure to order medication or not initiating therapy
Importantly, “inadequate patient assessment” was the “number-one contributor to failures in diagnosis.” Physicians sometimes didn’t review all the available clinical information. Other contributing factors included poor communication among providers or from provider to patients, insufficient documentation about clinical findings, workload concerns, and patient factors (such as obesity, which delayed care if equipment was not adequate to handle obese patients).
“This [is] important data to assist emergency physicians in areas of improvement,” noted Roneet Lev, M.D., quoted in an article about the study. Lev is director of operations, Scripps Mercy Hospital Emergency Department, in San Diego, California. “The nature of the business of emergency medicine is to be the first to diagnose, but that also means being the first to make the wrong diagnosis,” he said. “This data will help physicians to focus on specific quality measures that will reduce exposure to malpractice claims and improve patient care.”
Do you have an instance of medical treatment in the ER that you suspect may be malpractice? Contact us today for a free consultations.