Valenzuela Law Firm, PA | Trial Attorney
Attorney Henry E. Valenzuela

Emergency room patient handoff errors may lead to injuries

On Behalf of | May 15, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Emergency room medical professionals owe a duty of care to maintain their patients’ records. Staff members must communicate and share detailed and up-to-the-minute medical data with each other before transferring or handing off a patient.

As reported by American Nurse Journal, an estimated 70% of serious errors occur as a result of poor communication during a patient’s handoff. Caregivers leaving at the end of their shifts need to share patient data with staff members starting a new shift. Failing to provide the most recent diagnosis updates or a doctor’s plans for upcoming treatment could lead to a serious injury.

A lack of communication may result in medical mishaps

Mismanagement of information may cause a mistake affecting a patient’s condition or treatment. A nurse, for example, may administer the wrong medication or dosage. Doing so could lead to a severe allergic reaction.

Lab, x-ray and imaging data can change, and a patient’s chart must provide the most recent results. The omission of a newly discovered lump in a handoff communication, for example, may cause a physician to misdiagnose a serious development. If the patient required immediate surgery, but a doctor failed to perform it due to a chart omission, the hospital may incur liability for an injury.

Patients may help reduce the risks of communication errors

Patients visiting an emergency room may decrease the risks of staff errors by communicating with their caregivers. Learning about the hospital’s procedure for sharing electronic records between doctors may help reduce mistakes, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Patients transferring to another hospital or to a different care provider may ask about how the handoff relates to a medical condition. Patients have a legal right to review their medical records and inquire about their treatment or procedures. If a debilitating error occurs, the hospital or its staff may face responsibility for damages.

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