Injuries and Wrongful Death from Emergency Room Errors

Pennsylvania and New Jersey Medical Negligence Lawyers Explain ER Liability

In the hectic pace of an emergency room, mistakes can happen. However, that is no excuse for medical negligence. Emergency room patients need quick, high-quality medical care that is often life-saving. Therefore, the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who work in the ER must always follow proper procedures for diagnosing and treating patients. This includes running all necessary tests and ensuring that treatment will not interfere with a patient’s preexisting conditions or medications.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to emergency room negligence, you may be able to pursue compensation for your losses by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. The medical negligence lawyers at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., have significant experience handling emergency room malpractice cases for clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and nationwide.

Common Types of Emergency Room Errors

Emergency rooms must be adequately staffed to handle the volume of patients coming through. In many cases, emergency room errors result from understaffing, as there are simply too few people handling too many jobs. This can result in negligence from medical professionals rushing to keep up with the pace, or performing jobs for which they lack adequate training.

Examples of emergency room errors include:

  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of a condition. This can result in lack of treatment or the administration of an incorrect treatment. Some of the most common conditions that are missed or misdiagnosed in the ER include serious infections, heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis and internal bleeding.
  • Medication errors, including IV errors. When doctors rush or are careless in the emergency room, medication errors may occur even after a correct diagnosis. Overdoses and underdoses may both cause wrongful death. In addition, doctors must ensure to the best of their abilities that the drugs they prescribe do not interfere with a patient’s allergies or regular medications.
  • Failure to monitor a patient’s condition. In emergency situations, there is rarely time for doctors to gather full medical histories and reports before treating a patient. As a result, emergency room patients must be monitored carefully and regularly to ensure that their health does not decline. When an ER is understaffed or if doctors are neglect in checking on patients, serious injuries and/or wrongful death may result.
  • Giving contaminated blood. When hospitals neglect tests of donated blood, a contaminated sample may cause irreparable harm to an ER patient. Incorrect storage, handling or labeling of blood may also result in a harmful transfusion. Contaminated equipment may also result in an injury or infection due to a blood transfusion.

Are Emergency Room Negligence Cases Different from Regular Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

In order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit of any kind, you must prove, among other things, that your doctor violated the standard of medical care. This means that the doctor did not act as a reasonable physician would have in the same circumstances. This can include misdiagnosis, failure to perform standard tests and administering inadvisable treatment. In an emergency room, the standard of care is not as strict as it would be for a specialist or your regular physician.

As a result, proving medical negligence after emergency treatment can be more difficult than a regular medical malpractice case. However, the ER staff still have a duty to provide the best care possible. Expert medical witnesses can testify on your behalf as to what emergency room personnel should do in a given circumstance. If you received a different standard of care than this, then you likely have grounds for a medical malpractice case.

Additionally, you can almost always seek compensation from the hospital if emergency room negligence results in injuries. In regular medical malpractice cases, the medical facility may not be liable if your doctor was an independent contractor. However, since you do not visit the emergency room to see a specific physician, the hospital is generally liable for all ER treatment, regardless of the doctor’s employment status.

Call Our Philadelphia Medical Negligence Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation

Emergency room negligence is often particularly hazardous due to the serious nature of the conditions commonly treated there. Failure to diagnose a problem or medication error in an emergency situation can not only prevent effective treatment, but it can also cause additional permanent injuries or wrongful death.

If negligent treatment in an emergency room caused injury to you or a loved one, we are here to help. Contact us today to speak with a knowledgeable Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney. We offer free initial consultations and handle cases on a contingency fee basis.