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How can emergency department crowding affect your care?

Washington residents like you rely on hospitals when you need the care. If you require immediate attention for seemingly severe or acute issues, you have the emergency department to turn to. But lately, these departments are finding themselves overburdened and understaffed at great risk to you.

The National Institutes of Health highlight a growing issue in hospitals: the high volume of patients in an emergency department at any given time. In fact, they cite one case in specific in which the emergency department was filled to 250% capacity.

You may be asking yourself, how is it possible for staff to treat patients effectively and safely when they're that over-crowded? The short answer is: they can't. While it's true that many patients still get the care they need, it's also true that mistakes continue to rise as the volume of patients do. Negligence is a common issue within overcrowded hospitals. Staff simply have too many people to look out for and not enough hands, so to speak. Because of this, there can be problems with:

  • Misreading charts
  • Infections and epidemics
  • Misdiagnosing patients
  • Mixing patients up
  • Not noticing warning signs of infection or illness
  • Not reviewing patient history thoroughly

Tasks may be divided among multiple people to get them done faster, leaving an opening for miscommunication. Tasks deemed as lower risk can be left to sit longer than they should, leading to infections or other issues going unnoticed. In all of these scenarios, the patient is the one suffering. Because of that, contacting a lawyer may be a vital step toward seeking crucial compensation.

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