Why Emergency Room Wait Times Can Be a Matter of Life or Death

By Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari on January 2, 2017

emergency-roomHospital emergency rooms are notorious for subjecting patients to long delays before they are evaluated by a physician. These excessive waits can either be in a waiting room, or, after initial patient registration and triage, waiting in an examination room. When someone is very ill or seriously injured, delays in care may significantly be to a patient’s detriment. These delays may affect a patient’s recovery and could result in further illness or injury.

Emergency room hospital staff needs to recognize whether there is an urgency to administer treatment to those who come into the ER, and proceed accordingly in both the timely rendering of care and the appropriate prioritization of patients’ needs. In an emergency room setting, it’s integral to proper patient care, that administration, nurses, and doctors don’t allow patients get overlooked or inappropriately be placed on a “back burner” when in need of expeditious care. When these unwarranted delays occur they may result in significant injury to a patient, or even death.

During a medical emergency, time is of the essence and experiencing excessive wait times in an ER is unacceptable, no matter how busy or understaffed a hospital may be. In fact, one of the deviations from the standards of hospital ER care and administration, would be a failure to place on any particular shift, enough personnel to handle reasonably anticipated patient volume.

Conditions Which Can Likely be Adversely Affected by Emergency Room Delays

A delay in any treatment needed might result in an exacerbation of a patient’s presenting or underlying conditions. However, some illnesses and conditions are more profoundly affected, and delays may result in very significant consequences. Some conditions/symptoms which typically require more rapid evaluation and treatment include:

  • Appendicitis
  • Potential blood clot
  • Potential aneurysm (dissecting or ruptured)
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack or respiratory arrest
  • Possible internal bleeding/visible excessive external bleeding
  • Asthma attack/allergic reaction
  • Potential sepsis or fulminate infectious processes (severe infection)

Common Causes of Emergency Room Delays

Depending upon one’s condition, it can be expected to have to wait a reasonable period of time in a busy emergency room. However, there is still a certain time frame within which patients should be evaluated and treated to prevent them from sustaining harm. Some causes of delays include:

  • Failing to recognize the significance of signs and symptoms exhibited by a patient or assess those clinical signs timely
  • Failing to prioritize patient care in the correct order
  • Failures in Hospital ER staffing
  • Failures in ordering/performing diagnostic studies and ensuring proper transport for testing
  • Shortages in ER supplies

Proving Negligence With a Chatham, NJ Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one experienced a delay in emergency room treatment that caused further harm, it may be the basis of a meritorious medical malpractice claim. Under these circumstances, it’s important to seek counsel from a New Jersey personal injury lawyer.

At Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari, we understand the critical nature of emergency room delays. Our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers are well-versed in handling matters surrounding sub-standard emergency room care. Contact us at (973) 635-5400 for an evaluation.

Related Articles:

Posted in: Medical Malpractice

Share this page:

Schedule A Free Case Review

If you need to consult a New Jersey personal injury attorney, you need to contact the New Jersey personal injury lawyers at Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari, P.C.. The initial consultation is always free.

Phone: (973) 635-5400  •  Fax: (973) 635-9339