The emergency room is an inherently chaotic environment, and doctors and other medical staff who work in emergency rooms have the immense task of handling severe illnesses and injuries as quickly as possible when patients and ambulances arrive. Despite the chaotic nature of most emergency rooms, the medical professionals who work in them still have a duty to treat their patients in a timely and appropriate manner and meet the standard of care for each patient’s condition.
When an emergency room error happens in New York City and causes injuries, contact Sullivan, Papain, Block, McGrath & Cannavo, P.C., to schedule a free consultation with a New York City medical malpractice attorney.
Any type of medical malpractice claim can become very complicated very quickly, including emergency room error cases. The average claimant will not have the time, energy, money or expertise to handle a legal claim without representation while recovering from an emergency room error. An attorney will handle all the following on your behalf:
Hiring an attorney not only increases a claimant’s chances of success with an emergency room error claim, but will also likely increase the amount of compensation the claimant receives.
Doctors and medical professionals must make rushed decisions in the emergency room, which can result in a variety of errors that can seriously harm patients. Those commonly include:
At times, doctors can give an incorrect diagnosis, fail to diagnose a condition, or fail to appreciate the seriousness of the patient’s symptoms. This is often due to misreading a patient’s symptoms, not acting swiftly enough, a mishandling of information, not ordering the proper diagnostic tests or because of ignoring worrisome lab or other test results.
Patients may not receive the appropriate treatment that they need if there are significant wait times that are disproportionate to the serious nature of their injuries. A patient can also be incorrectly triaged (prioritized), leading to a delay in medical care.
A misdiagnosis or miscommunication can lead to a patient being given the wrong medication by mistake. An incorrect medication or dosage can result in serious injury or in severe cases, death.
When a patient is discharged prematurely, their injuries can become serious and potentially life threatening. Doctors can also fail to give clear instructions on any continued and follow-up treatment once a patient is discharged. Furthermore, they may neglect to follow up on irregular or worrisome test results with a patient or their regular physician.
Commonly reported injuries that come from errors in emergency rooms include the following:
The injuries caused by emergency room errors are usually preventable, but can end up being permanent, debilitating, and potentially fatal. If a negligent act has caused you harm, an attorney may be able to help you recover compensation.
The main contributors to emergency room errors are understaffing, overworking, and inadequate training. Of the millions of patients who receive care in an E.R. each year, most are not seen in under 15 minutes. The wait time is often so long because hospitals are understaffed. Without enough medical personnel, hospitals are unable to treat patients efficiently and effectively, especially if the employees are overworked and fatigued. When hospitals are understaffed, they may hire individuals to treat patients who are not yet properly trained. This is likely to cause errors, as improper treatment may be administered.
In order to prove emergency room malpractice, there must have been:
There must be an existing relationship between the medical professional and the victim, in order to establish that a duty of care was owed to the patient. This is generally a simple matter, as this relationship typically begins once an emergency room medical provider has examined a patient. In most cases, the emergency room documentation slip is sufficient enough proof.
It must be established that the medical provider breached the emergency room standard of care by committing a negligent act or omission. This means that, in a similar situation, a competent provider would not have behaved in the same manner.
Most importantly, the victim must demonstrate the negligence caused a foreseeable injury or bad outcome that would not otherwise have occurred.
Lastly, there must be evidence of financial losses. That may include medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, a diminished earning capacity, and more.
All medical malpractice lawsuits hinge on the concept of the standard of care, or the acceptable level and type of treatment a patient’s condition needs. Different medical professionals have different standards of care.
Emergency room personnel are there to provide life-saving medical interventions and to stabilize patients with acute illnesses and injuries and to make timely referrals to specialists within the hospital. In most medical malpractice claims for emergency room errors, plaintiffs rely on expert witness testimony that can provide insight into emergency medicine to determine standard of care violations and whether an emergency room doctor acted appropriately for a given situation.
Emergency room errors are often the result of negligent behavior on the part of a physician, nurse, hospital, or another staff member. When a medical professional violates the standard of care for a patient and causes harm, that medical professional commits medical malpractice and faces liability for the patient’s resulting damages. An emergency room error could lead to extensive medical bills for corrective treatment, lost income from time spent in recovery, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and any other damages resulting from the negligence in question. Victims may be eligible to recover compensation if they have suffered these financial losses due to an error.
New York is one of the few states with no damage caps in medical malpractice cases. For victims, that means that they will receive the amount of compensation a jury decides they deserve in correlation with their damages. However, jury verdicts do vary widely based on the specific circumstances of each case and the severity of the injuries and are subject to appeal.
Each state sets its own statute of limitations, which is a time limit for filing any type of medical malpractice claim, including ones related to emergency error. In New York, victims generally have 30 months to file before losing their right to compensation. There are exceptions that extend this rule, when it comes to a foreign object left inside a patient, a misdiagnosis of cancer, or an injured minor child. Starting from the date a victim discovers a foreign object or reasonably should have known, they have one year to file. Cancer patients have 30 months from the date of a realized cancer misdiagnosis. However, the claim must be pursued within seven years of the failure to diagnose. Similarly, children injured by medical malpractice can attempt to recover compensation until two-and-a-half years past their 18th birthday, but it must be within 10 years of the incident.
There are important steps that a patient can take in an effort to avoid being a victim of an emergency room mistake:
There are, of course, many instances of emergency room errors that may occur, no matter how vigilant you are.
A plaintiff’s attorney must be able to provide evidence that an official doctor-patient relationship existed between the plaintiff and the defendant, the defendant in the claim violated the standard of care for the plaintiff’s condition, and the violation directly resulted in the plaintiff’s claimed damages. Contact Sullivan, Papain, Block, McGrath & Cannavo, P.C., today to schedule a case evaluation for a recent emergency room error that caused an injury. Once we know the details of your claim, we can help you understand your legal options.