According to the American Medical Association, over 225,000 individuals die because of medical malpractice related cases every year, with nearly half of these reported fatalities stemming from emergency room errors. The emergency room (ER) is often the first stop for individuals who suddenly experience an unexpected medical problem or issue. Whenever a medical emergency occurs, people depend on the skills and knowledge of ER doctors, nurses, and other personnel to provide urgent care.
Emergency rooms are high-stress and fast-paced environments and are often understaffed or overcrowded. Despite the state of the emergency room, however, medical professionals are required to provide patients with the standard of care expected of them. ER personnel must be able to make fast decisions on matters related to life and death. Our Columbus emergency room errors lawyers can hold them responsible when their decisions lead to avoidable injuries and damages.
Examples Of Emergency Room Errors
When emergency room patients are treated with negligence, even the simplest medical conditions can become much worse. Some common emergency room errors are:
- Misdiagnosis of the patient’s condition
- Delaying the diagnosis of the patient’s condition
- Ignoring obvious signs of distress such as organ failure
- Prescribing or administering the incorrect medication or dosage
- Administering medications that are contraindicated
- Failing to obtain a comprehensive medical history
- Overlooking crucial information given when taking medical history
- Failing to perform the proper diagnostic tests
- Misinterpreting MIRS, CTs, x-rays and other test results
- Failing to refer a patient to the proper specialist
- Failing to notify a patient of test findings
- Failing to provide a patient with follow-up instructions
- Discharging patients that are critically or seriously ill
Of particular concern is the delayed diagnosis of severe medical conditions. For example, research shows that almost one-quarter of heart attack patients had to wait nearly an hour before receiving medical attention. Because your chances of surviving a heart attack decrease dramatically as time passes, it’s critical that patients receive the fastest, most efficient treatment possible.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives over 100,000 reports of suspected medication errors yearly. Although older patients are particularly vulnerable to medication mistakes, they often occur in emergency departments to persons of all ages. That’s because ER personnel often provide medication to patients seeking immediate help.
Examples of medication mistakes that occur in emergency departments include:
- Overdose, improper dosage, or other administration errors
- Failure to note drug allergies or medical histories
- Failure to inform patients of side effects
- Failure to report information to providers
Patients who receive the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage can experience severe side effects. For example, injuries that a patient might sustain from a medication error include brain damage, liver and kidney damage, heart attack, or stroke. In the most severe instances of medication mistakes, patients could sustain irreversible harm or death.
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Liability In ER Errors
Employers are generally held legally responsible for the negligence of their employees when the error occurs within the scope of employment. However, employers are not always responsible for the negligent actions of independent contractors. Many emergency room physicians, for instance, are considered to be independent contractors. It is important to closely examine the relationship between any and all parties potentially liable for an emergency room error.
Errors in the emergency room typically occur when the individual is already under some form of physical distress. It can therefore be challenging to establish that an error on the part of a negligent medical professional resulted in further injury. A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer can help determine whether a person has a valid claim, as well as help identify the party liable for the emergency room error.
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Professional Standard Of Care
When it comes to the validity of medical malpractice claims focusing on emergency room errors, a number of factors must first be established. It must be proven that the physician and the patient had a physician-patient relationship, that the physician had a responsibility of providing the patient with a professional standard of care, and that the physician breached this standard of care due to a careless or negligent action or inaction. It must also be established that the patient suffered an injury because of this breach of duty, and that the patient suffered damages as a result of the injury.
A standard of care means the actions of the ER medical professional will be compared to what other ER medical professionals would do if placed in the same situation. If the physician or nurse’s actions deviated from what other physicians or nurses would do, then it may be classified as negligence.
It is important to remember that not every emergency room outcome can be positive, even if the medical personnel do everything properly. After all, many individuals go to the emergency room already severely injured or ill. A negative outcome does not automatically mean that medical malpractice has been committed.
Emergency Room Crowding And Delays
According to the United States Government Accountability Office, there were more than 130 million visits to U.S. emergency departments in 2018. This number has increased since the mid-1990s, while the total number of ERs has declined. In addition, due to increased emergency visits and fewer facilities to provide medical treatment, patients often must wait longer than they should before seeing a doctor.
Unfortunately, these trends appear to have led to many ER doctors, nurses, technicians, and other personnel making severe, potentially life-threatening mistakes. While ERs are notoriously fast-paced, demanding environments for medical personnel, it’s essential to remember that patients are still entitled to receive a high level of care and attention to their health and well-being.
Unfortunately, even though most medical mistakes were unintentional, this is of little consolation to victims who have experienced needless pain, suffering, and crushing financial losses due to a seemingly innocent error on the part of the ER staff.
Common Reasons For ER Medical Negligence
Due to the nature of “emergency” care, poor ER staff performance may lead to even more adverse consequences than in a standard clinical setting. Moreover, when patients actively experiencing severe or life-threatening conditions become medical negligence victims, the effects are more likely to be catastrophic and result in death.
Some reasons for medical negligence in the ER include:
- Overcrowding and understaffing
- Medical personnel fatigue
- Poor internal communication
- “Patient dumping” (dropping uninsured patients)
- Failure to screen patients for life-threatening conditions
- Inadequate training and vetting for employees
- Resources and equipment shortages
- Insufficient hospital beds and rooms
Remember that ER medical professionals must provide the expected standard level of care, regardless of the circumstances and stress they face. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries due to an ER medical error, you might want to consult a personal injury attorney who can help you secure compensation for your losses.
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From evaluation to discharge, medical malpractice can occur at any point in an individual’s stay in the emergency room. The Fitch Law Firm LLC represents patients who sustained injuries or harm at any stage of their emergency room visit.
If you have reason to believe that you or a loved one was a victim of an emergency room error that resulted in an extended hospital stay or injury, consult with an Ohio hospital malpractice lawyer at the Fitch Law Firm LLC as soon as possible. We can examine your case exhaustively and help you seek financial compensation for the injuries you have sustained. You may be eligible to collect a recovery for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, mental anguish, and other damages and losses.
We are here to fight for you and help you get the justice you deserve. Call the Fitch Law Firm LLC or fill out our online consultation form to schedule a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
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