We’ve all heard horror stories from friends, relatives and media outlets about waiting over 4 hours in A&E in crowded departments up and down the country. You may have even experienced an agonisingly long wait yourself.
The target of a maximum waiting time of four hours was introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 2000. In national terms, hospitals have failed to hit the target since the summer of 2015.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt – a somewhat controversial figure for many in the NHS – has previously suggested that the target should be adjusted to only the most urgent cases and “those who actually need it.”
Are there serious medical implications of waiting over 4 hours in A&E?
Quite simply, the answer to the question posed above is yes, of course, there can be. Not only that, the consequences of waiting over 4 hours in A&E can potentially be extremely serious.
For example, 4 hours is more than enough time for infections to spread, for open wounds to develop more complicated issues, for dislocations to swell up and for any number of other symptoms to worsen.
Let’s look at dislocations as an example. As a general rule, the quicker you are able to pop a shoulder, knee or other joint back into place, the easier it will be to do. Fixing it quickly will also typically mean that the injury has a better chance of fully healing and any strained ligaments or tendons have a good chance of recovering to their original strength.
However, if you are left waiting over 4 hours in A&E, then the affected area could swell up to the point where it is virtually impossible to move the bone back into place. This not only makes the procedure more complicated but also extremely painful in the meantime.
If you end up needing surgery to fix ligaments damaged during a dislocation, then the road to recovery can be considerably tougher, whilst the damaged ligaments may never fully recover.
Making a compensation claim
Being left to wait over 4 hours in A&E, and suffering worse injuries, illness or pain, as a result, may well count as medical negligence. In which case you would be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
A quick call to the experts at Accident Advice Helpline can set you on your way. Our lawyers work on a 100% no-win, no-fee* basis so call 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993.
Date Published: February 22, 2017
Author: Accident Advice