Most people are one step away from the emergency room (ER) of their nearest hospital. If the hospital doesn’t keep enough staff available 24/7, people arriving with serious illnesses or injuries may not get the right treatment quickly. This could leave the hospital open for a lawsuit. Negligence including lack of personnel on the part of a healthcare giver is reason enough for the patient to file a claim against the hospital.
What Is ER Malpractice?
The most common cause for malpractice in the ER is the lack of trained staff. This means there are not enough doctors and nurses to actually serve the number of patients that show up. An inadequately trained staff member may give a wrong diagnosis to a patient resulting in the patient receiving the wrong treatment. Not only does their ailment go untreated, but they could suffer consequences from the wrong treatment.
According to a report from the American Public Health Association, more and more people are arriving in ERs every day. If the hospital doesn’t give enough funding to maintain the ER properly for the number of patients, they could be liable for malpractice. A worst-case scenario is patient waits too long for care in an ER and dies. This may be possible, but there are no statistics.
The Most Frequent Hospital Errors
Emergency rooms are set up to give treatment quickly to those who most need it. The symptoms are assessed, and the medical history is taken by the triage staff. Those with the most critical symptoms or injuries are treated first. People with multiple traumas, who are unconscious or not breathing, get priority. Some of the most common mistakes that could result in a malpractice lawsuit are:
• Giving a patient the wrong blood type
• Giving a patient the wrong medication
• Providing an accurate treatment to the wrong patient including tests
• Ignoring a critically injured patient while treating another
If a person has suffered because of the negligence of hospital staff or doctors, they have the right to compensation. They can contact a lawyer who has expertise and experience in medical malpractice suits to help them get what they deserve. The compensation they receive is called damages, which is given by the hospital to the patient. Hospitals have insurance protection from malpractice lawsuits, and it is not recommended for an individual to fight these insurance companies alone. A medical malpractice attorney will research the patient’s case and determine the best course of action. The most common types of compensation are:
• Lost wages because of the lack of proper treatment
• Medical bills received because of the malpractice
• Physical therapy costs
• Disability payments
• Pain and suffering they endured throughout the process
• Punitive damages to the patient to discourage hospitals from repeating the mistake
The ER Responsibility
Any hospital that receives Medicare funding must adhere to the rules of the federal law the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Under this law, these ERs cannot turn anyone away whether they have the ability to pay or not. The ER must provide all patients a medical screening and must do their best to stabilize the person. If the ER personnel violate either of these rules, the hospital is open to financial responsibility or a medical malpractice suit. If this law is violated, the hospital is liable even if the ER personnel transferred the patient to another hospital ER or if the patient could pay.