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Overcrowding lowers quality of care for ER patients

The Institute of Medicine recently reported on the problem of overcrowding in emergency rooms across the U.S. Overcrowding, the report said, is lowering the quality of care for emergency room (ER) patients and even increasing mortality rates.

Michigan residents should be aware that they could be the victims of a harmful delay in treatment, a diagnostic error or an overly long hospital stay – if they seek care at an overly crowded ER.

ERs are often crowded with patients who are already scheduled for treatment – in other words, patients who have been boarded. Boarding is one of the main culprits of overcrowding. In 2016, two-thirds of hospitals admitted to boarding patients for two hours or longer.

Most hospitals recognize the problem, yet few do everything they can to address it. The reason for that is partly financial.

Hospitals naturally want to prioritize procedures that come with a higher reimbursement rate from the insurance companies. For example, those with Medicare coverage will receive precedence for surgical or elective procedures.

This means that ER patients who simply need treatment for a medical condition often face issues regarding scheduling and bed availability. However, this is not the only cause to overcrowding. Other contributing factors include:

  • Staffing shortages
  • Growing numbers of patients visiting the ER for primary care

Under Michigan medical malpractice law, you may be eligible for compensation if you are injured by a medical error or delay in care. For most cases, you have two years from the date of the negligence to file a claim.

Before filing, though, it may be wise to seek legal guidance. Malpractice claims can result in some of the highest settlements in all of personal injury law, and having a lawyer on your side can improve your chances of a positive outcome.

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