If you’ve ever gone to a hospital emergency room for an adverse health condition, you know how stressful such situations can be. If you happen to arrive at a time when it’s busy and there are numerous other patients, some possibly in line to see a doctor before you, it can be quite a chaotic, unsettled atmosphere. If you’re not feeling well, it’s understandable that you want a doctor to examine you as soon as possible in order to obtain a diagnosis and treatment plan.

ER doctors often work under stressful conditions. They also often have to make split-second decisions, sometimes in life or death situations. When you seek medical support at an Indiana hospital, you can reasonably expect that the doctor tending to your needs will act according to accepted safety standards and regulations to determine the cause of your ill health and to recommend treatment. What if the doctor is negligent and commits an error that causes you injury?

The human error factor

When you need medical assistance, you likely expect your care provider to know enough to be able to make a correct diagnosis based on any symptoms you may be presenting at the time and with the aid of technology to conduct tests to assess the situation. In reality, doctors can make mistakes and the following list shows what types of issues that often lead to doctor errors:

  • Anchoring bias: Some doctors cling to the first piece of information you give them or symptom they notice and fail to pursue a situation further. This can lead to disastrous mistakes, including failure to correctly diagnose your condition, prescribing the wrong medication for a particular issue or not taking appropriate action to solve a medical emergency.
  • Giving typical diagnosis for typical symptoms: Just because someone shows up at an ER with chest pain, doesn’t mean he or she is having a heart attack. Misdiagnosing a heart attack can result in a life-threatening situation, such as if you suffered an aortic tear.
  • Not doing tests to rule out certain things: A good doctor knows that he or she should do certain tests to rule out other conditions and risk factors before issuing a firm diagnosis. Not doing so can place a patient at further risk. 
  • Using automatic thinking: If your doctor acts on emotion, impulse and automatic thought processes, he or she is more likely to make a mistake that can place your health in jeopardy. Slow-system thinking is best — it is deliberate, logical and detail-oriented.

It’s not always easy for a doctor to stop and think. Especially in an emergency room, things often move at a fast pace and one doctor’s attention may be divided between several different patients at once. Clear communication with other staff members, making good use of modern technology and thoroughness can help keep medical negligence at bay.