An emergency medicine physician may be providing care to several patients at once during a typical shift – and as a result, mistakes can and do happen. A mistake may arise due to negligence in certain situations, causing harm to a patient. What are your rights as a patient in an emergency room? Learn about emergency room negligence and when to contact a Kansas City personal injury attorney.
What Causes Emergency Room Negligence?
There are many different reasons that can contribute to emergency room negligence that leads to life-changing injuries. It can be one single thing or a combination of things that lead to an accident. Causes of emergency room negligence can include:
Overcrowding or scheduling too many patients in one day
Failure to effectively monitor patients by physician
Failure to run proper tests
Failure to provide proper care
Emergency Physician Malpractice
Emergency rooms are chaotic by nature, making emergency medicine administration a difficult task. As such, the law provides more leeway to emergency medicine doctors than it does other branches of medicine. Many decisions in the emergency room are based on limited knowledge of medical history and without the luxury of time. Nevertheless, emergency physicians can be liable for damages when they violate an established standard of care.
What are the Types of Emergency Room Negligence?
While most emergency room errors are preventable, it does not make them any less likely to happen. Stress, exhaustion, dirty surgical tools, and inexperience in the operating room can all lead to injuries in the emergency room. The many types of emergency room negligence include:
Making the wrong incision
Treating the wrong body part
Damaging a nerve or the spinal cord during a procedure
Leaving surgical equipment or tools inside the body
Grounds for an Emergency Room Negligence Claim
Emergency room negligence follows the same basic rules as any other medical malpractice claim. To collect damages, the injured plaintiff must prove:
That a professional relationship existed between the doctor and the patient
That an emergency room physician, nurse, or other provider committed negligence by violating an established standard of care
Legally, the term “standard of care” refers to a level of competence that most doctors would employ given the same or similar circumstances. This is where emergency room doctors get more leeway; the standard of care is lower in a hectic environment like an emergency department compared to an office or hospital room.
Imagine, for example, that a patient reports to an emergency room with an intense headache. If the same person were to visit their primary care physician (PCP) or a neurologist, he or she might complete an in-depth differential diagnosis and order tests until the doctor finds the root cause. An emergency room, however, works on the basis of triage. They may order tests to rule out immediately life-threatening causes like meningitis or stroke, then order a follow-up with a PCP. If this patient were to receive a terminal brain cancer diagnosis six months later, the emergency room would not be negligent in its discovery – rather, they acted appropriately within their realm of practice.
On the other hand, if a child reports to an emergency room with a fever and severe abdominal pain and the physician fails to order tests that would reveal appendicitis, this may be grounds for emergency room negligence.
Do I Have Grounds for an Emergency Room Negligence Claim?
It is difficult to know if you have actual grounds for a medical malpractice claim. At Wendt Law Firm P.C., we have the experience to recognize emergency room negligence and to hold the guilty parties responsible. If you believe you may have been mistreated or suffered a poor health outcome while in an emergency room, contact our office for a free initial consultation. We offer our services on a contingency-fee-basis, which means you’ll only pay if our Kansas City personal injury lawyer wins a settlement or court judgment on your behalf. Get started now.