emergency room errors and medical malpractice

Emergency Room Errors and Medical Malpractice

What happens if you go to the emergency room with a fever and you are prescribed some low-dose medicine and told to go home and rest, only to find out that you have sepsis? What if you have chest pains and you are discharged, only to find out you suffered a heart attack? What if you took your child to the emergency room for stomach pains and she had appendicitis, but they just looked at her and sent her home? Every year this is the unfortunate story for many people who seek help at an emergency room. This is sometimes seen as medical malpractice, and you may have a case.

The problem is, many emergency rooms are extremely chaotic and overcrowded because patients are constantly filing in and receiving treatment, and staff may be limited. Because of this, medical malpractice is bound to happen at some point. Diagnostic errors in the emergency room actually account for 37-55% of cases in studies of claims taking place for medical malpractice in these situations. In fact, in studies done for 2009, it was estimated that malpractice suits arising from emergency room incidents reached somewhere around $1 billion.

Common Emergency Room Mistakes

Emergency rooms can become overwhelmed by the amount of patients seeking help for their ailments in just a short amount of time. Because of this, there is always the chance that accidents will occur. Here are some of the most common emergency room errors that occur every year:

  • Refusal to treat or failure to treat a patient because they cannot provide proof of insurance, also known as “patient dumping”
  • Misdiagnosis for vital injuries or illnesses, such as those that are life-threatening health events
  • Administering the wrong medication or wrong dose, or giving the most inappropriate option for medicating
  • Delayed treatment as ER patients are left unattended for long periods of time
  • Releasing a patient too soon without proper instructions in improper discharge situations

Establishing Medical Malpractice 

How do you know that medical malpractice occurred in an emergency room case? For one, you must be able to show that there was a relationship between you, the patient, and the doctor who mistreated you in some way. Records of the patient’s admittance to the ER or treatment charts are enough to show that a relationship was established when the malpractice took place. You must also have to show negligence and that the doctor’s negligence is what harmed you. A treating physician has something known as a “standard duty of care” to treat emergency room patients. What would a similar doctor have done in the same situation? This is an important question to ask in terms of negligence.

There are some emergency room claims that are missed more than others. For instance, each year physicians will fail to diagnose heart attacks, strokes, and meningitis properly, sending a patient home and possibly ending in a fatality. Because of this, action must be taken. You may be entitled to compensation if negligence occurred in your emergency room case. You may be able to receive compensation for pain and suffering, costs of medical bills, loss of earning capacity, and so much more. Call us today for more information.