In a given year, around 130 million people seek medical treatment at emergency rooms around the country for injuries and illnesses. Emergency rooms are often chaotic, and this can result in errors. When a healthcare worker makes an error that results in the injury or death of a patient, it is considered medical malpractice.
Have you suffered an injury due to an error made by emergency room staff? If so, a Chicago emergency room error lawyer from Zayed Law Offices can help you understand the process of seeking compensation for your injury.
Types of Emergency Room Errors
Emergency room malpractice can be a disaster for a patient. If a doctor is not properly trained, is unsuited for the job, or is not rested and alert enough to be on shift, the result can be deadly. It can lead such a physician to miss obvious signs of stress associated with respiratory problems and organ failure; they may miss the signs of a heart attack or stroke, make errors in prescribing medication, misdiagnose a medical condition, or, as previously stated, incorrectly triage patients.
As noted, emergency rooms fill with critically wounded or ill patients.
During all this activity, these errors can commonly injure patients:
- Misdiagnosis of a condition, resulting in improper treatment. A missed diagnosis is also common in an emergency room when a health care provider fails to recognize the symptoms of a disease that would require further testing and instead sends the patient home.
- Failure to perform diagnostic tests promptly. The average waiting time in a U.S. emergency room is around 40 minutes. Still, more than 22 million ER visits feature over an hour or more wait. Not only is this an inconvenience, but it places a patient at risk of experiencing a worsening of their illness or injury while waiting for tests and treatment.
- Giving the patient the wrong medication or blood.
- Failing to follow up with the patient. Even ER doctors must follow up with their patients to monitor their recovery and ensure no complications from the injury or illness.
- Why Emergency Room Errors Occur
Emergency room errors occur for a variety of reasons. Doctors may not be informed of a patient’s vital signs, information is often lost during shift change, the doctor may fail to get another opinion if they are unsure of what they symptoms suggest—these are just a few of the many reasons that can lead to the poor handling of a patient in need of urgent care.
What Causes Emergency Room Errors?
The healthcare worker shortage experienced in recent years has been well-documented, with around 19 percent of all U.S. hospitals critically understaffed. This means they do not have a sufficient number of workers to meet the facility’s needs and its patients.
Understaffing is the root of many causes of emergency room errors, such as:
- Staff members have too many patients to adequately monitor vital signs and treatment of conditions.
- High staff turnover can result in providers unfamiliar with the emergency department where they are working and poorly trained in the hospital’s policies and procedures.
- Medical errors include providing the wrong medicine for the patient or the wrong dose.
- Misplaced paperwork can result in dangerous or deadly errors, including wrong-patient or wrong-site surgery.
Communication is vital in healthcare, where many professionals can treat the same patient. Shift changes occur, and providers must give all the information necessary for workers coming onto their shift to resume the patient’s care seamlessly. Failing to communicate all information about the patient’s history, the type and dose of medication they received and when, and other important details can result in an injury to the patient.
Is Your Injury the Result of Medical Malpractice?
Not all medical errors rise to the level of medical malpractice, and not all bad health outcomes result from errors.
In a medical malpractice claim, you must show:
- The provider had a professional duty to provide you with a standard of care to avoid causing additional harm.
- The provider breached the duty when their actions (or inaction) failed to meet the established standard of care.
- This breach in the provider’s duty resulted in your injury.
The Consequences of an Emergency Room Error
Depending on the kind of emergency room error made, you may be lucky to live through it. Even if you survive, the mistake may cost you serious pain and distress in the long-term. You may have to undergo more invasive surgeries as a result of ER mistakes. This will lead to additional medical expenses and time from work. The further physical, mental, and financial burdens added to your life because of emergency room malpractice may be difficult to deal manage.
Why You Need a Lawyer
As you recover from the mistake made by ER doctors, you should contact a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice. Once the hospital realizes that a mistake was made, they will immediately launch an investigation. A representative from the hospital or its insurance company may attempt to contact you for an interview. You should answer no questions or make any statements without a lawyer present. Indeed, you should allow your lawyer to speak for you. It is important that you not say anything that could undermine your case against the ER doctor who treated you.
What a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Do
You need not file a lawsuit straightaway. You may get an offer from the insurance company that represents the doctor or hospital. If the sum of money offered compensates you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, your lawyer may advise you to accept it. However, if you have been made grievously ill by the error made by the ER team, then you may need more money to put your life on track. Your lawyer can negotiate this with the insurance company. If they refuse to accede to a reasonable sum, then you do have the option to sue.
The emergency room is not place for mistakes. It is where people go to be cared for after a serious fall, a car accident, the feeling of pains in the chest, and other such events. The stakes are high, and the professionals who care for patients cannot afford to get it wrong. If you decide to sue, your lawyer will gather the evidence and testimony necessary to demonstrate that the people who cared for you in the ER failed to deliver an acceptable level of care, that you have suffered seriously as a result, and that you are owed a specific amount of money.
Seeking Compensation Through a Medical Malpractice Claim
Individuals who have suffered an injury due to emergency room negligence can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injury through a medical malpractice claim. Be aware that these are often challenging cases, and having an experienced attorney to assist you in navigating the process is critical to the success of your claim. The process generally begins when the claimant hires a medical malpractice attorney.
An attorney can thoroughly investigate the situation that resulted in the malpractice to determine all sources of liability. Doctors generally carry malpractice insurance and are not hospital employees in medical malpractice claims. If a doctor committed an error that resulted in injury, you can hold them liable. However, suppose hospital staff, such as an emergency room nurse or technician, made a mistake. You can then hold the facility responsible and file the claim against their medical malpractice insurance policy.
Once your attorney establishes liability and determines a value for your claim, they submit a demand to the provider of the at-fault party’s medical malpractice insurance. This insurance provider can either pay the claim, deny the claim, or offer to settle the claim for less than the determined value.
You can file a medical malpractice lawsuit if the insurance provider fails to pay the claim. Many states have additional requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim, such as an affidavit of merit, which states that the attorney has consulted an experienced medical professional about the lawsuit and that professional determined that the case has merit.
The Type of Compensation You Can Seek
Those who have suffered an emergency room injury as a result of medical malpractice can seek compensation for expenses and impacts such as:
- The cost of medically treating the injury
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity, if the emergency room injury proves to be permanent and impacts the sufferer’s ability to work
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
We Can Help You With Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Were you injured as a result of negligence in the emergency room? If so, let the legal team at Zayed Law Offices explore your legal options with you. Contact us at (312) 883-6907 for a free case evaluation.