Is It Medical Malpractice When Hospital Overcrowding Leads To An Injury?

Is It Medical Malpractice When Hospital Overcrowding Leads To An Injury?

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With the increasing number of hospital patients in Pennsylvania, local hospitals often feel strained. In addition, emergency departments and ambulance crews are overwhelmed as hospitals throughout the state are overcrowded. This overcrowding is causing delays in care, even for patients arriving in ambulances. 

Emergency room wait times are increasing. Ambulance crews are exhausted sitting with patients in the ambulance or the waiting area. According to the director of community relations for a local ambulance company, it used to take about 15 minutes to transfer a patient to an emergency department, give a report, and be back in service. In November 2021, the process typically took one to two hours.

There is often nowhere for a patient to be unloaded in the emergency department due to the increasing number of hospital patients. Patients occupying beds in the emergency room are admitted but may lack an open in-patient bed to move to. This creates the perfect storm for overcrowding, which increases the risk of patient injuries.

How Does Hospital Overcrowding Increase Patient Risk?

The high numbers of patients in hospitals significantly impact the patients' quality of care. Additionally, the lack of equipment, resources, and trained staff means the inadequate attention that’s given to each patient often results in mistakes.

According to a 2021 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine’s Catalyst, emergency department crowding can lead to significant patient harm, including morbidity and mortality, due to the delay of treatment.

Overcrowding is linked to the following issues:

  • Long wait times that result in patients not receiving prompt treatment
  • Poor communication among medical professionals or between the patient and provider
  • Failure to identify a serious problem and refer a patient to a specialist
  • Delayed diagnosis or incorrect diagnosis of heart attack, stroke, infection, or meningitis
  • Errors involving radiology, CT scans, x-rays, or other imaging
  • Surgical errors
  • Laboratory errors
  • Providing the wrong medication or wrong dose of medication
  • Failure to adhere to safety procedures, spend enough time with patients, or adequately follow up with patients
  • Transferring or discharging a patient due to lack of insurance or another financial reason

Can Injuries Caused By Hospital Overcrowding Be Considered Medical Malpractice?

In Pennsylvania, medical malpractice occurs if a medical professional commits medical negligence by violating the accepted standard of care used by other medical professionals in the same field. The negligence must be a factual cause that resulted in the patient’s injury.

Hospitals and their staff need to act reasonably and maintain proper standards of care for their patients. This includes maintaining safe and adequate facilities and equipment and enforcing acceptable rules and policies to ensure quality care for patients.

Liability depends on the following:

  • Whether the hospital and its staff acted reasonably through the medical services provided
  • Whether the staff knew or should have known about the defects or procedures that led to the harm

Contact Ross Feller Casey If You Have Been Injured Due To Hospital Overcrowding

Hospital emergency rooms typically are understaffed and crowded. Doctors and nurses work under extreme pressure. They often are stressed out, exhausted, and forced to make fast decisions. In addition, many staff members are not properly trained to carry out their duties. These factors often lead to serious injuries, preventable complications, or loss of life. 

Healthcare providers can be held accountable for the harm that results from lack of due care. 

Contact Ross Feller Casey today if you or a loved one was injured due to an overcrowded hospital. You may be able to file a malpractice claim against the healthcare providers, staff members, and hospital. You also may be entitled to seek compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and current and future medical benefits. 

The experienced emergency room attorneys at Ross Feller Casey have successfully litigated numerous multimillion-dollar lawsuits involving medical malpractice. They include some of the most significant cases of their kind in Pennsylvania. Part of the reason for our success is our on-staff team of Ivy League-educated and trained physicians and doctor-lawyers.

Contact our top hospital overcrowding lawyers today for a free case evaluation. You will not pay anything until a monetary recovery is made in your case.

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.