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Do I Have a Claim for Medical Errors in Emergency Rooms?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 100 million people visit the emergency room each year, resulting in 5-10 million medical errors. Emergency rooms are known for being busy with overworked staff. In a setting like this, a lot can go wrong; medical errors can happen, and even the tiniest mistake might result in severe harm or death.

“Any hospitalized patient who suffers harm as a result of negligence has the legal right to sue the responsible parties,” says Attorney Russell J. Berkowitz of Berkowitz Hanna Malpractice & Injury Lawyers. However, any patient who is a victim of any medical error in an emergency room due to negligence has the legal right to seek compensation. The victims will need the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney to prove this.

Medical Errors That Occur In Emergency Rooms

There are different types of medical errors that occur in Emergency rooms. Some of them include:

  • Medical Misdiagnosis

Doctors and nurses at emergency rooms are under pressure to work fast, and misdiagnosis can occur because of the tension and lack of time to perform their duties properly. Medical misdiagnosis occurs when emergency staff offer an inaccurate diagnosis due to a lack of recognition of the exact symptoms and may treat the patient for the wrong ailment.

Treatment for the wrong disease can result in irreversible harm. Medical misdiagnosis can lead to other emergency errors, such as the early discharge of patients who should otherwise be in the hospital for further testing. When this happens, the health condition of the patient may deteriorate.

  • Medication Errors

In emergency rooms, medication errors are also common. These errors include prescribing or giving incorrect prescriptions to patients. In other circumstances, administering medication without first recognizing allergy may cause serious harm to the patient.

There may also be mistakes in the dosage of the drug given or requested. A pharmacist could write the wrong dosage on a drug label, a nurse could make a drug dosage error, or a doctor could forget to enter the correct dosage on a chart.

  • Delayed Treatment

Emergency rooms are usually quite excellent at determining the severity of an illness and when it needs immediate attention. There may be omissions from time to time, especially if the emergency room is busier than its staff can handle.

This can cause a delay in the treatment of patients; delaying treatment, especially for certain types of injuries, can significantly raise the risk of the condition worsening or resulting in death.

  • Inadequate Discharge Instructions

Before discharging patients, emergency departments should give patients clear guidance on managing their condition. Amid the emergency room hurry, employees may overlook giving discharged patients the discharge instructions they require.

When patients return home without the discharge information they require, they may face deteriorating conditions. When patients go back to the emergency room within 72 hours of being discharged due to a failure to comprehend or follow discharge guidelines, emergency department discharge failure is said to happen.

  • Improper Discharge

Improper discharge refers to allowing patients to go before they are well enough to leave the hospital supervision. In a circumstance like this, the patient may find that their condition worsens after leaving, requiring them to return for additional medical treatment. In more catastrophic cases, a patient may depend on emergency department support to stay alive; early discharge of such patients might result in death.

Causes of Emergency Room Medical Errors

Many emergency rooms are understaffed and may not attend to patients adequately and on time. When there is understaffing, delay in attending to patients sets in and sometimes worsens an existing condition resulting in severe harm or death in some cases.

Another reason for emergency department medical errors is burnout. When doctors and nurses are exhausted, medical errors are more likely to occur. Medical error can also happen if there is a miscommunication among staff or between patient and staff.

Furthermore, medical errors can occur when healthcare workers are not educated or trained to deal with specific emergency medical situations. Healthcare providers may not understand the necessity to study medical records and may also disregard the need for MRIs, CT scans, or other imaging tests before treatments.

Is It Possible To Sue For Emergency Room Medical Mistakes?

Medical professionals have a responsibility to deliver a certain level of care. If they make a mistake and the care they offer falls short of that standard, they may be held accountable for negligence. When a patient suffers injury because of a medical error at an emergency room, the patient has the right to sue for compensation.

Victims of medical error can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician or the hospital if the harm occurs because of negligent activities in the emergency room. If the health care practitioner who made the medical error was a hospital employee, patients might sue the facility. Many parties, including nurses, lab technicians, and other employees, may also be accountable for patient injuries in many cases.

In some cases, the patient may hold the hospital accountable if they failed to offer enough training for their staff or if there was no proper vetting before hiring the staff. Before making any claim, it is critical to contact a qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Medical malpractice claims frequently have a one-year statute of limitations; failure to submit a case within that time frame may lead to loss of compensation entitlement.

What To Expect During An Emergency Room Visit

When visiting a hospital emergency room, you should anticipate speaking with a triage nurse, a specialist emergency nurse. A triage nurse determines the degree of your condition and is in the ideal position to take your vital signs, ask questions, and assess the severity of your condition. You may have an X-ray or other test concerning your symptoms.

However, you may be required to wait for treatment after seeing a triage nurse. Because many patients frequently arrive at once, prioritization and treatment of the most urgent cases while others have to wait for their time takes the order of the day. While you wait, let the triage nurse know if your condition changes or feel any severe symptoms.

Furthermore, if your doctor refers you to the emergency room and has some time to prepare, it is good to bring some items. The items may include health insurance cards, any state-issued identity, medication list, phone with charger, e.t.c. Since many emergency hospital visits occur without warning, it is always a good idea to keep your identification and insurance cards on you in case of a medical emergency.

Final Thought

It is possible to minimize medical errors in emergency rooms; if medical workers can be meticulous in their duties. In addition, sufficient and well-trained staff in an emergency department will also help reduce medical errors. Bear in mind that every patient has the legal right to sue for medical malpractice resulting from negligence. Before making any claim, it is advisable to contact a medical malpractice attorney.

About The Authors

Katharine Tate

Katharine Tate - I’m a native of Massachusetts, where I earned bachelor's degrees in Health, Science, Society, and Policy and Sculpture from Brandeis University. I enjoy assisting and inspiring women in all aspects of their lives, and I consider myself a partner in their OB an GYN treatment. I particularly enjoy forming relationships with young women and assisting them in determining their healthcare needs and goals. I love to travel, create metal and fiber art, cook, and spend time outside. Also, I’m fluent in both German and American Sign Language.

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