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When Can an Emergency Room Mistake Lead to a Lawsuit?

Published on July 26, 2023

Medical mistakes that lead to patient injuries are all too common in the United States. Stunningly, recent research from John Hopkins reveals medical mistakes as the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

When sick or injured patients rush into an emergency room, they expect the medical providers there to care for them at the highest standard of care accepted by the medical community, but because the environment of an emergency room is necessarily chaotic and stressful, medical mistakes in emergency rooms are all too common and sometimes cause grave injury or even death. This type of medical malpractice can have devastating consequences. Victims of emergency room malpractice should not be left with the undue financial burdens their injury causes on top of their pain and suffering. Many victims seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

When can a mistake made in an emergency room lead to a lawsuit?

When Can An Emergency Room Mistake Lead To A Lawsuit?

Common Medical Malpractice Claims in Emergency Rooms

The rushed, stress-filled environment that’s common in emergency rooms may lead to fatigued providers and dangerous or even deadly mistakes. The most common medical mistake found in emergency rooms is misdiagnosis, such as a doctor diagnosing a heart attack patient with acid reflux or indigestion. A misdiagnosis can result in improper or delayed treatment that worsens the condition. Other common medical mistakes in emergency rooms include:

  • Failure to order correct diagnostic tests
  • Laboratory errors
  • Medication mistakes
  • Delayed diagnosis and delayed treatment
  • Birth injuries
  • Failure to detect and treat infections
  • Medical infections due to incorrect ER practices
  • Ignored hospital policies resulting in injury
  • Poor patient monitoring
  • Improper discharge

Communication between medical staff members in chaotic emergency room environments sometimes breaks down, leading to malpractice-related injuries in patients.

Who is Liable in Emergency Room Malpractice Cases?

Liability for medical malpractice in emergency room mistakes can lie with any of the following entities depending on the circumstances of the injury. Common liable parties in ER malpractice claims include:

  • The individual provider if they are independent contractors with hospital privileges rather than employees of the hospital
  • The hospital or facility itself
  • A member of the emergency room support staff

A hospital could be liable for damages in an emergency room lawsuit if the medical error occurred due to negligent hiring practices, inadequate training procedures, or a mistake made by a facility employee.

Proving liability requires demonstrating the following legal points of medical liability:

  • That a provider/patient relationship existed at the time of the service
  • That the at-fault party owed a special duty of care to treat a patient at the industry-accepted standard of care
  • That they breached this duty by failing to treat the patient the way another reasonable medical provider would under the same circumstances
  • That the breach of duty caused an injury
  • That the injury caused the victim significant damages

Most emergency room mistake cases are settled out of court through a medical malpractice attorney’s negotiations with the appropriate malpractice insurance company. Only a small percentage of Phoenix medical malpractice lawyer cases go on to a lawsuit in court. Though court litigation may take longer than an out-of-court settlement, jury awards from lawsuits tend to be larger than typical settlements.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.