What to Know about Emergency Room Malpractice

What to Know about Emergency Room Malpractice

Emergency Room MalpracticeTypes of Emergency Room Malpractice Errors

Emergency errors can occur at any stage of the process, beginning from the time a nurse or a paramedic is attending to the patient as he's wheeled into the emergency room, right up to the time the doctor makes a diagnosis or administers treatment. Some of the most common types of emergency room malpractice are:
  • Misdiagnosis;
  • Delayed diagnosis (according to some statistics reported by the Wall Street Journal in 2011, diagnostic delays account for approximately 37 percent to 55 percent of medical malpractice claims related to emergency room errors);
  • Infections;
  • Neglect (nurses or paramedics fail to appropriately respond to an injured patient);
  • Failure to order tests (lab tests and diagnostic tests may be necessary for accurate diagnosis, and in a fast-paced emergency room environment, some doctors fail to order such tests);
  • Anesthesia errors; and
  • Medication errors (the patient is given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of medication).
Keep in mind, though, that emergency room doctors often have more “leeway” regarding the standard of care expected of them. That isn’t to say they are immune from liability, but the law considers the fast-paced environment and the importance of quick thinking and decision-making to treat patients in the ER. Emergency room professionals simply do not have the same amount of time to consider a diagnosis or weigh the most appropriate forms of treatment, compared to many other doctors.

Common Misdiagnoses in Emergency Rooms

Heart attacks are some of the more commonly misdiagnosed conditions in emergency rooms. One of the reasons for this is the false assumption that a person below the age of 50 is not likely to suffer a heart attack, compared to an older male. Some doctors might dismiss:
  • Chest pain;
  • Palpitations; and
  • Other symptoms of a heart attack as heartburn or other relatively minor conditions.
This leads to doctors sending patients home with disastrous consequences. Strokes are also often misdiagnosed, especially when they occur in younger patients. According to one study cited by the Wall Street Journal report, approximately 15 percent of patients with median age of 37.9 years who were rushed to an emergency room after showing symptoms of stroke were initially misdiagnosed. Such delays can have long term and disabling consequences for a patient.

Consequences of and Compensation for Emergency Room Malpractice

When a patient is misdiagnosed, or when diagnosis has been delayed during a visit to the emergency room, there is a serious risk of:
  • Infection;
  • Permanent disability; or
  • Additional surgeries.
The person may require a longer time to recover from his illness. Other consequences include brain damage, stroke, organ failure and even death. Persons who have suffered injuries because of emergency room negligence may be eligible for compensation for damages like:
  • Medical bills;
  • Lost wages;
  • Pain and suffering; and
  • Reduced quality of life.
If you were the victim of medical negligence in an emergency room and suffered injuries because of errors made during Emergency Room treatment, discuss your options for compensation with a medical malpractice lawyer. Call 877-864-9495 to speak with an attorney at Ryan, LLP in Cleveland.

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