Emergency room injuries and medical malpractice are a serious issue. According to the CDC, more than 129 million Americans visit the emergency room each year. The hectic and sometimes even chaotic environment of hospital emergency departments and urgent care clinics can lead to devastating mistakes. Doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other hospital employees can make errors, neglect patient duties, or make a critical misdiagnosis leading to injury or even death in extreme cases.
Many emergency medical facilities are over-worked and chronically understaffed. As a result, employees are forced to diagnose, treat, and release patients as quickly as possible to keep up with patient volume. The results can be misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment, and oversights that cause patients suffering and distress. Emergency room errors are inexcusable, and if you’ve been the victim you may be eligible for financial compensation.
Common types of emergency room malpractice
The major cause of emergency room-related malpractice cases is misdiagnosis. Sources estimate that this is responsible for 30% of malpractice suits related to emergency medicine. Patients with severe issues can be sent home on the assumption that the cause is minor; in reality, the patients may be facing a medical emergency or a life-threatening illness. Other causes of emergency room malpractice include:
- Emergency medical technician (EMT) error or neglect
- Malpractice related to anesthesia errors
- Surgical error or unnecessary complications arising from surgical treatment
- Delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Complications related to blood transfusions
- Injuries Associated With Emergency Room Errors
As an example, when a patient presents with chest pain, a busy emergency room staff may overlook them. As a result, the patient may be denied critical care that could have prevented or minimized the damage from a heart attack. Heart attacks are one of the most common complications that arise from an emergency room error. Others may arise due to emergency room employee negligence including: stroke, aneurysm, bleeding or hemorrhaging, appendicitis, and embolisms. Any of these can have lasting health consequences for the individual or even be fatal.
How Emergency Room Errors Occur
Given that emergency rooms exist to serve patients in need of the most urgent care, it’s often surprising to patients that malpractice can occur in this environment. Emergency rooms have two immediate priorities: to give a full medical screening to patients and to stabilize the patient. From there, decisions can be made regarding further diagnostics, administering treatment, or seeking transfer for another facility. However, the reality is that many emergency rooms are overwhelmed with a volume of patients that are seeking treatment for ailments that don’t constitute an emergency. Due to overcrowding, a patient may not be admitted or given the appropriate priority. Patients often decline while waiting to be seen, are not examined in a thorough fashion, or may even be improperly discharged without being seen or diagnosed.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an emergency room misdiagnosis or injury due to neglect, you may have the basis for a malpractice case. Contact us today to arrange for a consultation with an experienced malpractice attorney to discuss your case and learn about your options.