Emergency Room Errors: When to Sue for Medical Malpractice

If you need to seek immediate care for your medical needs, the emergency room is usually the right place to go. However, there are unavoidable instances wherein healthcare professionals may commit errors, possibly causing you more injury and harm.

Considering the fast-paced nature of emergency rooms, doctors and other medical staff are given more leeway in terms of liability. But, despite that, they can still be held liable for emergency errors, especially arising from sub-standard medical care.

However, it’s also important to note that not all errors can be used as a cause of action to file a case. Proving a malpractice case can be complicated, as it will require evidence and enough proof that the errors that happened are the proximate result of a medical professional’s negligence.

With that said, one of the best things you could do is to seek legal assistance from a dedicated malpractice lawyer. Getting professional advice can help you not just in terms of preparing the necessary documents, but can also guide you on how to prepare the best strategy to build your case.

So how do you know if you have grounds to file a case? Keep reading this article to know if you can sue for medical malpractice based on emergency room errors.

1. When There Are Triage Errors

Triage refers to the process of determining the urgency of treatment needed by a patient based on the severity of the condition. When triage isn’t performed properly, the patient won’t be able to receive the immediate treatment they need, which can result in an irreversible injury.

When an incident like this happens, the medical practitioner who attended to the patient may be sued for medical malpractice.

2. When There's a Failure to Get a Thorough Medical History and Order Appropriate Tests

One of the responsibilities of an emergency staff is to make a call regarding the next steps and treatment for a patient. Part of this role is obtaining and knowing the patient’s medical history. This way, they can have a complete overview of your case, thus, increasing the rate of having proper treatment administered. Also, if they are aware of your medical records, they can determine if the medications they will prescribe won’t interfere with certain medications you might be currently on.

Additionally, when a healthcare professional fails to get your medical history, they won’t be able to order the appropriate tests that can rule out other health issues. As a result, you’d get a wrong diagnosis and you might sustain more injury or damage.

Incidents such as these can be avoidable, especially with proper attention and records management. But when this happens, you can file a malpractice lawsuit against them.

3. When There’s a Case of Misdiagnosis

An inaccurate diagnosis occurs when a medical practitioner misinterprets your test result or the symptoms you may have. When this happens, you won’t be able to receive the appropriate treatment and procedure that could best address your real health concern.

For instance, the medical practitioner attending to you could propose an unsuitable treatment plan and refer you to the wrong doctor, or they could prescribe you the wrong medicine. Or worse, they could send you home, with the belief that you aren’t sick. With that said, misdiagnosis is not only inconvenient, but it can be fatal too.

4. When There's a Delay of Treatment

When it comes to patient care, getting the proper treatment is as important as getting an accurate diagnosis. However, most emergency rooms tend to be busy and crowded. There are instances that you are left to wait for hours to get accommodated and receive your treatment.

With that said, delaying medical treatment can place patients at risk for developing complications, which can lead to a more serious health condition.

Proving a Medical Malpractice Case

Medical malpractice claims are complex and can be difficult to prove. While these emergency room errors can cause further harm or complications, claiming it as a result of a practitioner’s negligence is a different story.

With that said, here are the elements your claim must have, to pursue a case.

  • Doctor-Patient Relationship

    To have a valid medical malpractice case, you should be able to prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed. This means that the emergency room doctor had a duty of care to you and is responsible for your treatment.

    In most cases, you can use the treatment charts and admittance records to establish the relationship.

  • Negligence

    Another element that should be established when filing a lawsuit is negligence. You should be able to demonstrate that the doctor attending to you failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care in treating your medical condition.

    To prove negligence and increase your chances of winning, you may need to submit expert testimonies in court.

  • Harm or Injury

    Once you were able to prove the doctor-patient relationship and negligence in your case, the next step is to show that the negligence directly caused you harm or injury. Some common injuries caused by emergency room errors include infection, damage to organs due to misdiagnosis or wrong medication, paralysis, and other similar conditions.

  • Damages

    Another thing you need to prove in a medical malpractice case is that the injuries you sustained resulted in significant losses. These can include medical bills, lost wages, long-term disability, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.

    Hence, if you’ve sustained some or all of these losses as a result of medical negligence, you can seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

Bottom Line

While mistakes are common, medical errors due to negligence or sub-standard medical care shouldn’t be excusable, especially since there is life on the line. Filing a medical malpractice claim can be overwhelming and stressful, but with the help of an experienced lawyer, you can get proper advice and guidance on how you can best pursue your case.

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