Accidents happen to many people, and a trip to the emergency room is not uncommon. If you do end up in the ER, you want to believe that you’re in the hands of skilled, experienced medical professionals. But just like during a stay in the hospital, mistakes can also occur in the ER. These mistakes can lead to more serious injuries for patients or even create new medical conditions. It’s important to be aware of the different mistakes that constitute ER malpractice.
How Does Emergency Room Malpractice Happen?
For medical emergencies, special rules apply if a patient suffers injuries due to medical malpractice. For example, first responders are protected from most lawsuits by state laws; however, doctors, nurses, and medical staff are still liable for ER malpractice, and standard rules apply.
There are obvious reasons that errors occur in ERs. They tend to be overcrowded, increasing the chances that a patient won’t be admitted fast enough or given proper care and priority for their condition. In some cases, a patient’s condition can worsen the longer he waits to be admitted.
Additionally, malpractice can happen if test results are not analyzed quickly or thoroughly. When this happens, the patient might be discharged before getting the appropriate treatment and attention.
Examples of Emergency Room Malpractice
Mistakes can occur in hectic emergency rooms, and hospital employees, including nurses, physicians, paramedics, and other staff, can be negligent in a rushed environment. The following are examples of medical malpractice that can occur in an ER:
- Misdiagnoses (a very common example of ER malpractice)
- Anesthesia errors
- Failed diagnoses (another common error)
- Errors in medication
- Unsanitary conditions
- Inadequate patient tracking
- Patient “dumping”
What Is Patient Dumping?
Patient dumping is an unethical and illegal practice. It happens when a patient needs medical attention at an ER, but because he’s unable to pay or doesn’t have insurance, he’s not admitted. In this case, the patient would have to be driven a very far distance to get to a hospital that would admit him—making his condition worse or life-threatening.
Any hospital that receives Medicare funding is not allowed to turn a patient away, no matter if the patient is unable to pay. This is due to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). There are serious penalties for any hospital that violates the EMTALA.
Injuries Caused by Errors in the ER
ER malpractice can have serious consequences for any patient. The following are just a few of the injuries that patients suffer due to errors in the emergency room:
- Heart attack
- Internal bleeding
- Brain aneurysm
- Pulmonary embolism
If You’re a Victim of ER Malpractice
If you have been a victim of ER malpractice and seek compensation for your injuries, you’ll need to prove that the medical staff or hospital was negligent in the following ways:
- The hospital had a “duty of care” to ensure that you wouldn’t be harmed during treatment, and the hospital broke or “breached” that duty of care.
- You were injured due to that negligence.
- Your injury was a direct result of the negligence.
- You suffered real damages due to the negligence.
If you or a family member suffered injuries due to ER medical malpractice, call Tapella & Eberspacher at (217) 394-5885. We’ll examine your case and seek the justice you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation.