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Why Your Condition Might Get Worse in the Waiting Room

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on December 2, 2016

When patients visit a hospital or clinic, they typically need urgent care. Things like prescription refills and regular check-ups can all be taken care of by a family doctor, but when there’s an emergency, people head to the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility. But even when in distress, once patients get there they often have to wait, sometimes hours! This is seen both around Washington and the rest of the country, so why is it such a big problem?

Of course, the most obvious problem with long waiting times is that any condition might get worse the longer it’s left untreated. Conditions that are easily preventable and treatable, such as asthma, might not be that difficult to treat when the patient first comes in. But if that patient is left to wait, their breathing might become increasingly short and shallow, and soon they might not be able to get any air at all. In cases of severe cuts or scrapes, any time that passes is time that infection can set in, making the entire situation worse, and creating new conditions on top of the initial problem.

But why are patients in hospitals and health facilities made to wait for so long?

One of the problems is misdiagnosis. While triage nurses might recognize “chest pains” as symptoms of a heart attack, they might not pick up on the condition the same if the patient instead says “extreme fatigue” or “extreme weakness”. If the hospital staff don’t properly recognize and diagnose serious problems right away, and identify these patients as being top priority, even a small wait of just a few minutes can drastically change the outcome.

Other times sadly, it’s simply incompetence that results in a longer wait time than necessary. When doctors and nurses discriminate against patients, or think patients are exaggerating their symptoms, they may force them to wait even in the worst of situations. It’s not something that happens all the time, but unfortunately it does occur.

Of course, the biggest reason patients are required to wait in hospital waiting rooms is simply because health facilities around the country today are severely understaffed. That understaffing means that fewer doctors and nurses need to handle more cases than ever before and unfortunately, cases pile up and patients need to wait longer and longer before it’s their turn to see the doctor.

If you’ve been left to wait in a waiting room and have suffered greater injuries or consequences due to that wait, call us at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. today. We’ve seen these types of medical malpractice cases before, and we want to help you in the fight for yours. Contact us toll-free at (888) 228-3860 to speak to one of our qualified Seattle personal injury attorneys today.

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