ERs are fast paced and busy environments. This is because emergencies occur every minute of every day. People need medical help because they become injured in a car crash, by fire, when they slip and fall and by acts of violence. In addition to injuries caused by accidents, life-threatening conditions, such as a heart attack, a stroke, an allergic reaction, a seizure or an aortic dissection, likewise can occur at any given time. As a result, patients rely on ER’s to provide them with crucial and needed care on a 24//7 basis.
It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control that more than 100 million ER patient visits occur every year throughout the United States. It is further estimated that diagnosis and treatment mistakes occur in 10-15 percent of these ER patient visits. This translates into 5-10 million patient ER diagnosis and treatment mistakes, ranging from minor to life-threatening, occurring each year. Unfortunately, patient overcrowding in ER’s and under staffing by medical personnel creates a fertile ground for serious diagnosis and treatment mistakes to
When a patient first presents to the ER, the patient is “triaged” by the ER staff. This is the procedure by which the ER staff determines which patient needs to be seen immediately and those patients who can wait. A mistake during the triage process can be the difference between “life and death.”