According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Maryland has the longest emergency room wait times in the country, 228 minutes. Some area hospitals have had longer wait times. For instance, University of Maryland’s Capital Region Medical Center in Prince George’s County has an average wait time of 17 hours. This is not something new for Maryland. Studies show the area hospitals have a 7 year history of long wait times.
Long wait times in hospitals can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, both for patients and for the healthcare institutions themselves. For Maryland, prolonged wait times can (and have) increase (d) the risk of medical malpractice claims. Here’s why:
1. Delayed Treatment: The most direct consequence of long wait times is delayed medical treatment. In emergency situations, every minute counts. A delay can exacerbate a patient’s condition, leading to complications that could have been avoided with timely care.
2. Misdiagnosis: Overcrowded hospitals and long wait times can put immense pressure on medical staff. In their rush to see more patients, there’s a higher chance of misdiagnosis, which can lead to incorrect treatments and further health complications.
3. Inadequate Patient Monitoring: Patients who are made to wait for long periods might not be monitored as closely as they should be. This can be especially dangerous for patients who are in critical condition and need constant observation.
4. Increased Stress and Anxiety: Long wait times can cause significant stress and anxiety for patients and their families. This emotional distress can sometimes exacerbate health issues, especially in patients with heart conditions or anxiety disorders.
5. Communication Breakdown: In a busy environment with long wait times, there’s a higher chance of communication breakdown between medical professionals and between doctors and patients. Miscommunication or lack of communication can lead to medical errors.
6. Resource Strain: Extended wait times often indicate a strain on hospital resources, including a shortage of beds, medical equipment, or staff. When resources are stretched thin, the quality of care can decline.
In light of these factors, it’s evident that hospitals with prolonged wait times are at a higher risk of facing medical malpractice claims. It’s crucial for healthcare institutions to address the root causes of these delays, whether it’s a lack of resources, inefficient processes, or staffing issues, to ensure patient safety and reduce their legal liabilities.
On January 25, 2023, Delegates Bhandari, Forbes, A. Johnson, and Kaiser proposed HB274/SB387. HB274, titled: Task Force on Reducing Emergency Department Wait Times, was passed into law during the 2023 Legislative Session. The law now establishes a task force to identify root causes of the long wait times in Maryland hospitals. The final report and potential solutions will be provided to Governor Wes Morre by January 24, 2024.
While these governmental steps may be helpful in the long run, it is clear that Maryland hospitals are currently operating at a higher risk of causing unnecessary harm to patients. It’s crucial for Maryland healthcare institutions to address the root causes of these delays and implement fixes before more Marylanders are needlessly hurt or killed.
If you have a severe medical condition, timely treatment can make all the difference. A delay in diagnosis, or a misdiagnosis of your condition can result in serious harm or even death. If you believe that you or a loved suffered harm due to medical negligence, a medical malpractice lawyer can help you recover compensation for your pain, suffering, medical bills and lost wages.
Don’t hesitate to contact the medical malpractice lawyers at D’Amore Personal Injury Law today for a free case review. Remember, you and your loved ones deserve a prompt and accurate diagnoses from the doctors you trust with your care.
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