Emergency Room Errors: When a Doctor Is Liable for Damages

With dozens of patients waiting in the lobby and a life-or-death case likely to burst in the door at any moment, the emergency room at your local hospital is a chaotic place. It's no wonder that in this hectic, fast-paced place, emergency room errors can easily occur.

It is the duty of the hospital staff and administration to minimize the risk of mistakes. When your hospital fails to do so, and your loved one suffers irreversible damage or death, you may have a medical malpractice case for emergency room errors.

Elements of Emergency Room Errors

With any negligence claim, you must establish three elements.

  • Existence of a relationship between the injured person and the party he or she is filing a claim against
  • Proof of negligence caused by the person the victim is filing the claim against
  • Evidence that the injured person was harmed by the negligence

In the case of an emergency room error, you will need to prove that a particular doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or hospital system handled you or your loved one's medical care. Next, you must show that negligence occurred, whether it was administering the wrong medication or mixing up patient charts and applying the wrong treatment.

Finally, you must demonstrate evidence for a medical malpractice case through three measurements.

  • Physical damages
  • Emotional damages
  • Financial damages

Determining When a Negative Hospital Outcome is Not Emergency Room Malpractice

When you bring a medical malpractice claim for an emergency room error against a hospital or medical professional, their malpractice insurance will provide legal support for their side. The defense against your case can include evidence that you made your injuries worse by ignoring doctor's orders, such as getting out of bed when you were told explicitly not to.

Another common defense against emergency error allegations is that an emergency room doctor is not expected to have the means to diagnose certain specialized ailments. If you came to the ER for serious headaches, the ER doctor might perform CT scans or MRIs to rule out acute conditions like blood clots.

If it is later discovered that a brain tumor was the source of your headaches, the hospital may argue that during a typical ER exam such a condition would be difficult to diagnose without an oncologist involved.

Determining When a Negative Hospital Outcome is Emergency Room Malpractice

Patients who visit an ER for treatment should expect to receive a standard level of care. This level of care is the primary conduct a doctor would follow to treat any patient regardless of their condition. When you file an emergency room error claim, your medical malpractice attorney will look at the circumstances and determine at which point in your care that the doctor, nurse, or other staff member acted out of scope of the standard of care.

One of the comparisons that malpractice attorneys use to determine a malpractice case is to review what happened to the patient and then compare that to the treatment that a reasonably competent ER doctor would have administered.

If a patient came in complaining of chest pains and the doctor only did their vitals and sent him home with painkillers without running an EKG, an attorney could argue that their failure to adequately assess the patient's condition led to worsening of his symptoms and an eventual heart attack.

As you can see, determining medical malpractice during emergency room care can be a difficult task. Before you start filing claims against the hospital or a doctor, talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. is here to support Georgia patients and their families in times of suspicion regarding their loved one's medical care. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment for a FREE consultation regarding your legal options for filing a claim for damages caused by emergency room errors 404-474-0804.