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After a car accident, one of the first things a victim must do is get proper treatment for his or her injuries. In most cases, treatment will be sought at a local hospital emergency room.
Unfortunately, a new study indicates that, too often, these local facilities are not staffed and equipped to provide these accident victims with the care and treatment they need. In other words, the victims are “undertriaged.”
According to the study, conducted by researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and recently published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 1 in 3 “major trauma” patients in 2010 – a total exceeding 57,000 people – were treated at lower-level or non-trauma centers instead of at major trauma centers.
A major trauma patient is one whose injuries, on a scale of 1 (least severe) to 75 (most severe) is rated at 16 or higher.
This means that 34 percent of these patients were undertriaged, or nearly seven times more than the 5 percent undertriage goal set by the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma, as MedicalXpress.com reports.
The study found the problem to be one that impacts the very young and the very old. According to the study, 35 percent of children ages 5 and younger and 25 percent of those between ages 6 and 17 were undertriaged in 2010. Additionally, 54 percent of severely injured patients age 85 or older, and 47 percent between ages 75 and 84, were undertriaged.
The most common diagnosis for an undertriaged major trauma patient was traumatic brain injury.
Where a victim receives treatment plays a key role in the victim’s eventual recovery. If a patient does not receive the medical attention and treatment that is needed, this failure could lead to further complications or death.
As noted by the senior author of the study, and reported by ScienceDaily.com, earlier studies have shown a 25 percent lower fatality rate when patients are treated at Level I, or major trauma center, versus a non-trauma center.
If you are the victim of an accident, you may be eligible to seek damages from the at-fault driver or other negligent party responsible for causing your injuries. However, in cases where your injuries were made worse due to receiving inadequate treatment in a local hospital emergency room, you may also have a legal claim against the hospital due to an inadequate level of care.
For instance, if it is clear that a hospital lacks the staff and equipment needed to provide proper treatment to an accident victim, the hospital should make sure the patient is transferred to a facility that can handle the situation.
This is why it is crucial to contact an attorney after an auto accident or any other type of accident. By doing so, you can ensure that your case will be thoroughly investigated, and your rights will be fully protected.