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Study shows increased fatalities in overcrowded emergency rooms

When you or a loved one is suddenly faced with a serious medical crisis, the best option is often to go quickly to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. In such situations, the sick or injured individual must put trust in the trained medical professionals to provide the best possible quality of care. Unfortunately, results from a study recently conducted by Oregon Health and Science University have revealed that patients in emergency rooms are less likely to receive adequate care when the emergency department is busy.

The study examined almost one million emergency room visits at 187 hospitals during 2007. The researchers compared medical records from days when the emergency departments were able to help everyone to those when the hospitals had to divert ambulances to other medical facilities due to overcrowding.

The researchers found that patients who were admitted when the hospital had to turn ambulances away were more likely to die while admitted. In addition, they tended to stay in the hospital for longer periods of time and had higher medical expenses.

Specifically, the study revealed that there was a 5 percent higher chance of a patient dying while admitted to the hospital if they were admitted to the emergency room when the department was busy. Those patients stayed in the hospital .8 percent longer than those admitted when the hospital was not busy and had 1 percent higher expenses.

The researchers calculated the overall consequences of busy emergency rooms and found that approximately 300 people died due to overcrowded emergency rooms. In addition, patients admitted on busy days spent a total of 6,200 more days in the hospital and incurred an extra $17 million in medical expenses.

Some of the suspected reasons for this disparity seem apparent. For instance, when the emergency room is above optimum capacity, it is more likely that those with critical illnesses will not receive timely care. In addition, as the attention of physicians and nurses is constantly redirected to attend to new patients, there is less time to provide adequate care to those already admitted to the hospital.

Researchers note that the problem will likely continue to worsen as the population of elderly Americans increases.

Immediate concern for Ohio youth in emergency rooms

While a larger population of older Americans is likely to prolong the problem, emergency room overcrowding can also have a negative effect on young people in Ohio. According to the Ohio Department of Health, from 2002 to 2010, the number of young sports players who required trips to the emergency room to treat traumatic brain injuries doubled.

Consequently, a new law was recently passed, which requires that young athletes be taken out of the game if they exhibit signs of a head injury. The law requires that these injured athletes receive permission from a medical professional before returning to the sport.

Whether the ill or injured individual is a young athlete or a senior citizen, every person receiving treatment in an emergency room deserves proper care. If you or a loved one has been harmed due to medical malpractice in an emergency room, consulting with a knowledgeable Ohio personal injury attorney will ensure just compensation is received.

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