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ER doctor sees patient care from the other side after accident

Many people who seek treatment at a hospital's emergency room are overwhelmed by what's going on. Aside from having an acute illness or injury that compelled them to go in for treatment in the first place, they may not be in a good frame of mind to ask all the questions of their doctors and nurses that they should in the chaos of the situation. This could include a pain in a part of the body that hasn't been addressed due to time shortages or other factors.

One emergency room doctor found out how the process works from the patient's side when she was struck by a car while crossing the street. She was visiting from out of town, so she wasn't familiar with the hospital or the personnel who were there to treat her.

The woman's experience shows how easy it might be for doctor errors to have a negative impact on patient care. When she arrived at the hospital in an ambulance, the patient-doctor mentioned several times that she had pain in her backside and her knee as a result of the crash. However, the physicians who treated her seemed more intent on making sure that there were no internal injuries, rather than evaluating what might be causing the pain the woman was complaining about.

Ultimately, the medical team decided the woman should be released because she had no broken bones. However, she was essentially unable to stand up when she was helped to her feet. She was admitted, and after continuing to ask about her condition, a specialist finally came to look at her knee. It turned out she had a torn ligament. Almost two years after the accident, the doctor still limps and relies on a cane to walk.

Source: The Washington Post, "Hit by a car, an emergency doctor experiences firsthand the shortcomings in ER care," Charlotte Yeh, June 9, 2014

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