Hospital emergency rooms stabilize patients with serious medical problems and set them up for follow-up care. Emergency rooms can be chaotic, as patients arrive unexpectedly with life-threatening conditions. However, doctors and nurses in emergency rooms are still responsible for delivering a standard, acceptable level of care. Some studies show that medical mistakes are more likely to happen in emergency rooms than in most other health care settings. Patients who have been harmed in an emergency room as a direct result of a doctor’s or other health care provider’s negligence have the legal right to seek damages.
More people are admitted to hospital emergency rooms each day, with estimates ranging between 130 million and 148 million patients per year. With so many patients, the number of medical mistakes happening in emergency rooms are also on the rise. Many medical mistakes happen during examinations or lab tests. The types of medical mistakes that happen in the emergency room most often include the following:
The underlying causes of medical mistakes include understaffing, overworked staff, and a general culture of hierarchy in which doctors are not questioned about the decisions they make.
There are many reasons why medical mistakes happen more often in emergency rooms, particularly in hospitals that are busy and understaffed. Doctors and nurses may not review a patient’s medical records before treating a patient. They also may feel that they do not have time to do MRIs, CT scans, or other imaging tests before administering treatment. There may also be miscommunication among staff or between a patient and staff during an emergency.
There are many underlying causes as well to medical mistakes in the emergency room, including the following:
It is important to know that a doctor-patient relationship is generally established whenever a patient is examined in the emergency room. Once this relationship is established, the doctor and staff are responsible for providing a standard, reasonable level of care. Patients may have the right to file a medical malpractice claim if they have been harmed because they did not receive that level of care.
Patients may file a medical malpractice claim against a physician or the hospital if they suffer harm due to negligent practices while in the emergency room. Patients may choose to sue the hospital if the doctor or other health care provider that committed the medical mistake was a hospital employee. In many cases, there may be multiple parties responsible for your injury, like nurses, lab technicians, and other staff. In some situations, you may hold the hospital liable because they did not provide adequate training for employees or their employees were not properly vetted before they were hired.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can sort through these complex issues and determine if it is possible to sue the hospital, doctor, and/or other parties for medical malpractice.
When you visit the hospital emergency room, you can expect to speak with a triage nurse who will take your vital signs, ask questions, and evaluate the seriousness of your case. Depending on your symptoms, you may have an X-ray, bloodwork, or other tests.
However, you should also expect to wait for treatment. Since you do not need an appointment for emergency room visits, many patients often arrive at once. Hospital staff must prioritize patients and treat the most urgent cases first, leaving others to wait their turn. However, if your condition changes and/or you experience sudden pain or other severe symptoms, let the nurse know right away.
If your doctor has referred you to the emergency room and you have a bit of time to get ready, it is helpful to bring the following items with you before you go:
Since many emergency room visits happen without notice, it is always a good idea to carry your identification and your insurance cards with you at all times in case you have a medical emergency.
It is never easy to determine whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim against an emergency room. This is because any claim of medical negligence is complicated, requiring extensive reviews of medical records and getting the opinions of medical experts.
The best way to determine if you have a valid medical malpractice claim is to reach out to an experienced lawyer who has worked with medical experts in the past on these types of cases. Our lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have helped injured patients recover significant multi-million-dollar medical malpractice settlements, including the following:
If you have questions or concerns about the medical care you received at an emergency department or urgent care facility, someone at our firm can help. We will review your medical records as part of an initial investigation. Depending upon the circumstances, we may also speak with a medical expert to determine whether or not you have a valid medical malpractice claim.
Many thousands of patients suffer serious or fatal injuries due to the negligence of doctors or other health care providers. Our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP represent innocent patients who have been harmed by medical mistakes. If you have been injured by a medical mistake, call us today at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.