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Medical Malpractice FAQ: Can an emergency room error be considered medical malpractice?

Any emergency room in the U.S. can involve copious amounts of stress and emotions. These environments tend to be full of people who are suffering from mild to moderate, severe, or life threatening medical conditions. Staff in an emergency room will face life and death scenarios each and every day. These staff typically must have special ER training, and may need certain experience to work in the conditions. It will be up to them to make fast decisions with the intention to save the life of a patient who may be dying. As they are only human, they are not exempt from making errors. However, when the decision made by medical staff in an ER causes further harm or death, it may be possible to file a medical malpractice claim. 

To find out if you have grounds for a case, please consult a medical malpractice lawyer who handles ER cases. 

Errors in the Emergency Room

As a leading medical malpractice lawyer, we know many cases involve ER errors, as well as, errors made during the diagnosis, treatment, and also surgery. Emergency room cases in particular are unique because the ER is naturally a stressful environment. Therefore, the likelihood of a staff member making a mistake in the ER is considerably high. In the U.S. at least 100 million people will visit the ER each year. Of these, between 5 and 10 percent will suffer from some kind of error. 

According to a  review conducted by a medical malpractice insurer in the U.S., between 2007 and 2013, the most common errors made in emergency rooms were as follows:

  • 57% involved failure to diagnose
  • 13% were a result of a failure to manage the patient’s care
  • 5% were from a poor execution of the patient’s care
  • The remainder were from the failure to order medication for the patient

This review consisted of 332 claims that had been resolved, and were a result of ER errors. 

Staff Are Under Pressure in the Emergency Room

According to research on emergency room errors, the frequency of these mistakes are high because of the amount of pressure staff endure. Many staff are rushing from one patient to the next, but even then, the average patient will have to wait at least one hour before being seen. This can easily lead to misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or improper treatment. To add to this, many staff are overworked, stressed out, and tired. An environment like this can lead to staff feeling exhausted or even burned out. Both of these mental effects can have a significant impact on the staff’s ability to think clearly. 

In addition to the above, as a medical malpractice lawyer, we know of cases that have involved:

  • Failure to properly record a patient’s medical history
  • Failure to properly communicate with the patient
  • Failure to perform adequate testing
  • Sending the patient home too early
  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Failure to listen to the patient

Working in an ER is a hard job; however, the staff in this position are expected to be able to cope with the extra stress and challenges. If they cannot do so, they should not be in this environment. Failure to meet the standards and duty of care that is expected in the emergency room can be medical negligence. If a medical staff member in the ER was negligent and you were injured because of their actions, they should be accountable. To learn more, call a hospital malpractice lawyer in Phoenix, AZ now. 

Thanks to Rispoli Law, PLLC for their insight into medical malpractice and emergency room errors.



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