Can Emergency Room Mistakes Be Considered Medical Malpractice?


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Each year, millions of people are treated for injuries and illnesses at their local emergency rooms by qualified medical professionals. Most of the time, the care that patients receive in the ER is effective, and they are treated and discharged or admitted for ongoing testing or care. However, sometimes mistakes happen in the emergency room that have devastating effects on patients and their families. When that occurs, the hospital and medical professionals may be held liable. 

How Do Emergency Room Errors Happen? 

It may be surprising that ER malpractice cases exist, given that they are designed to help people who are most in need of medical care. Unfortunately, the truth is that medical mistakes happen all the time in emergency rooms. Some errors in the emergency room happen due to the chaotic nature of the environment, while others are a result of improper prioritizing of patients. Still, others occur as a result of negligence. In any of these situations, patients’ conditions can deteriorate quickly when they are not seen quickly and treated properly.

Common Types Of Emergency Room Errors

Medical errors of all types may occur in the emergency room, just as they do in other parts of the hospital and other medical settings. However, there may be an increased risk of errors in the emergency room because patients often have to be seen and treated quickly. That opens the door for mistakes to happen, especially those related to diagnosing patients. 

The most common ER mistake is misdiagnosis, and it is a major cause of injuries to patients. Because the ER staff is in a hurry to treat patients and discharge or admit them, they may fail to thoroughly examine someone, not run appropriate tests, or evaluate x-rays or other imaging incorrectly.  

Other common emergency room mistakes include: 

  • Delay in treatment – Emergency rooms are hectic and overcrowded at times, which may mean a shortage of beds, staff, and equipment, creating the need for triage and prioritizing the order in which patients are seen. If patients are improperly prioritized, the delay in being seen by a nurse or doctor can result in serious consequences. Even small medical issues can become acute when not treated in a timely manner. 
  • Infections – Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) can result in injury and illness to ER patients. While this is sometimes unavoidable, the spreading of HAIs may be due to medical malpractice or negligence. Hygiene and cleaning policies must be followed correctly by medical staff. Failing to do so may cause patients to contract infections that lead to severe illness or death. 
  • Ignoring policies – If medical staff try to cut corners due to the busyness of the ER to save time or reduce paperwork, important policies may not be followed. This may cause errors in medical charts or other paperwork, poor monitoring of patients, rushed lab results, contaminated blood transfusions or IVs, among others. 
  • Miscommunication – Emergency room workers may be tired, stressed, and overworked in a hectic environment, leading to communication errors. These errors may be written or verbal and most commonly occur in patient charts. 
  • Improper discharge – If a patient is discharged from the emergency room, it should mean that they have received the right medical treatment for their injury or illness, and they have been properly instructed what their next steps should be. That may mean following up with their primary care doctor or a specialist. When a patient is discharged too quickly, they may have been misdiagnosed, or they may not have been informed of the proper follow-up care, which could lead to serious complications. 

What Injuries Are Associated With Emergency Room Mistakes?

Some common injuries that are sustained due to emergency room errors like delayed treatment include: 

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Appendicitis
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Hemorrhages or internal bleeding

Medical malpractice cases that happen in the ER can be difficult to prove. However, with a proven and experienced attorney, recovering compensation for damages is possible. 

Get Help With Your Emergency Room Malpractice Claim

Emergency room errors can cause severe injury or even death to patients. Suppose you or a family member has suffered injuries due to a mistake made in the ER. In that case, it’s essential to have your medical records reviewed by an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Emergency room error cases are often complicated and time-consuming. They require both legal and medical expertise for a positive outcome. At Ross Feller Casey, we have experienced malpractice attorneys and medical doctors on our staff to review your records and determine if you have a case. We have a proven track record of helping clients win medical malpractice lawsuits filed against hospitals for medical errors and negligence.

Contact Ross Feller Casey to schedule an appointment for your free case evaluation. Emergency room malpractice cases are handled on a contingency basis, so there’s no cost to you until we receive a winning verdict or a settlement for your claim. 

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.