Confidential Settlement: 20-Year-Old Struck and Killed by a Johnson County School Bus -- Read more

What Are Common Emergency Room Errors?

Nov 29, 2022

Heading to the emergency room is a stressful experience, whether you’re going as a patient or to support a loved one. The last thing you want to manage while you’re there is a medical error on top of the medical emergency.


Unfortunately, emergency room errors are more common than most people realize. Approximately five to ten percent of all emergency room visits involve one or more medical errors. Millions of people in the United States deal with emergency room errors each year. 

But what exactly are emergency room errors, and what should you do if you experience one? If you find yourself in one of the following situations, reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer to determine whether you have a legal case and can pursue compensation.  

What Is An Emergency Room Error?

An emergency room error is any mistake made by medical professionals such as doctors and nurses in an emergency room. The causes of these errors vary, and emergency room errors can take many different forms, from surgical errors to poor communication. 

It’s important to understand the various types of emergency room errors so you can take action if you ever experience one. You may be able to start a lawsuit and receive compensation.  

Examples of Emergency Room Error Cases

In some situations, emergency room errors can lead to medical malpractice legal cases. Incorrect diagnosis and long or delayed medical treatment are two common claims resulting from emergency room errors. 

Incorrect Diagnosis

One common type of emergency room error case is an incorrect diagnosis. If you go to the emergency room and a doctor gives you an incorrect diagnosis, a medical malpractice case may help you recover the damages you incurred.   

Diagnosis errors are the most common type of medical malpractice case, and the settlements on these cases can be as high as $10 million or more. To succeed in an incorrect diagnosis case or any other medical malpractice case, you need to be able to prove the following:

  • There was an established doctor-patient relationship
  • The doctor was negligent in diagnosing your medical condition and failing to provide the appropriate treatment
  • You incurred damages such as pain and suffering, loss of income, and/or additional medical expenses
  • The doctor’s negligence directly caused the damages you incurred

If you can show all these things are true, you may be eligible for compensation for your incorrect diagnosis through a medical malpractice case. 

Long or Delayed Medical Treatment

Long or delayed medical treatment is another type of emergency room error case. Depending on what brought you to the emergency room, delays in your medical treatment can lead to worsening medical conditions. Even a relatively small medical issue can progress and become more serious if it is not treated properly in the appropriate time frame. In the worst-case scenario, this medical error can result in the death of the patient. 

Although long waits in the emergency room are common, you still have a right to timely emergency room treatment. If the doctor’s delay in providing treatment to their patient was the result of medical negligence, that may be grounds for a medical malpractice suit. 

In long or delayed medical treatment malpractice cases, you must also show that the delay in treatment caused you additional injury or harm. This could include worsening symptoms or decreased effectiveness of the treatment you eventually received. 

Most Common Emergency Room Errors

There is a wide variety of errors medical professionals make in emergency rooms. These errors typically arise from the main aspects of emergency care such as diagnosis and prescriptions. 

Medication Errors and Wrong Doses

Patients in the emergency room may receive the wrong medication or the right medication in doses that are too large or too small. If the patient has a drug allergy, medication errors become even more of a risk. 

Poor Communication

Successful treatment requires medical professionals and patients to communicate. Because of this, poor communication is considered an emergency room error. Human factors such as the medical professional being distracted and not reading the patient’s medical history can lead to communication errors in the emergency room. 

An example of poor communication in the emergency room would be if your doctor did not provide comprehensive discharge instructions to help you manage your care at home. 

Diagnostic Errors

A diagnostic error occurs when an emergency room doctor makes a missed, delayed, and/or wrong diagnosis of the patient’s condition. If a patient presents with abdominal pain caused by pregnancy and the doctor diagnoses that patient with indigestion instead, that would be a type of diagnostic error. 

Diagnostic errors are more common with certain medical conditions such as strokes, pulmonary embolisms, and drug reactions, but could occur with any condition. This kind of medical error can lead to the patient receiving ineffective medical care and suffering prolonged adverse incidents. In extreme scenarios, diagnostic errors can lead to doctors telling patients they’re fine and allowing them to go home, only for their conditions to worsen outside of the emergency room. 

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors are medical errors that occur during surgery on the patient. Operating on the wrong patient or body part and leaving surgical equipment inside the patient are examples of surgical errors that can happen in emergency medicine. 

Cognitive Errors

Cognitive errors are often related to diagnosis errors but not always. They occur when there are flaws in the medical professionals’ reasoning and decision-making in the emergency room. One type of cognitive error is confirmation bias — people’s tendency to seek evidence that confirms their idea while looking past or undervaluing evidence that refutes it. 

These cognitive errors can easily lead to incorrect diagnoses or improper treatment plans. 

Be Ready to Hire an Emergency Room Error Lawyer

From diagnostic errors to medication errors, emergency room errors are common and often grounds for a medical malpractice case. If you or a loved one experienced emergency room errors, a medical malpractice lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve. 

The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at The Spence Law Firm will fight for you. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Schedule a free consultation with The Spence Law Firm, LLC

Meet with us.

If you are struggling with a serious injury, or are fighting against seemingly impossible odds against big corporations, insurance companies or the government, call us to speak with our team of trial lawyers who will fight for you. We take no fee unless we earn it by winning your case.