Injuries and Wrongful Death from Emergency Room Errors

emergency room error

Every day, people across America are injured and seek emergency medical attention. Hospital emergency rooms treat the vast majority of these patients, and as such, the doctors and other healthcare professionals who work there perform lifesaving work every day. Patients trust emergency room doctors to make them better. Unfortunately, even doctors make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes end up harming patients rather than healing them.

When a healthcare professional in the ER negligently or recklessly makes a medical error, and the patient is harmed as a result, that patient can hold the responsible party (or parties) liable by filing a medical malpractice claim.

If you are wondering whether you might be entitled to financial compensation for your losses due to emergency room negligence in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, the law firm of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at your earliest convenience.

What Do You Have to Prove in an ER Negligence Claim?

Emergency rooms are busy and chaotic by nature. Therefore, it is expected that mistakes will sometimes happen. No one expects emergency room personnel to be perfect, but the law does require them to provide each patient with treatment and advice that meets the applicable “medical standard of care.”

In a nutshell, this means that emergency room professionals are legally required to provide patients with care that is consistent with the level and type of care that a similarly situated medical professional of reasonable competence and skill would have provided under the circumstances. When a medical professional negligently provides care that falls below this standard, then he or she can be held liable for the harm that the medical mistake caused.

In order to win a medical malpractice lawsuit based on emergency room negligence, you will need to prove each of the following elements:

  1. The defendant owed you a duty of care.
  2. This duty of care was breached when you were provided with substandard medical care.
  3. This breach caused you harm.
  4. As a result, you suffered compensatory damages.

When you call our firm, our knowledgeable ER malpractice lawyers will review the details of your situation and advise you on whether we believe you have a claim. We can answer all your questions in a free, no obligation consultation.

Common Causes for Emergency Room Negligence

Emergency room negligence can involve either a negligent act or a negligent failure to act. Negligence in emergency rooms comes in a variety of different forms, but some of the most common causes are:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Failing to run the appropriate tests
  • Failing to refer a patient to a specialist when needed
  • Medication errors (including prescribing or administering the incorrect medication or dosage)
  • Failure to properly monitor a patient’s condition
  • Giving a patient contaminated blood

If you were the victim of emergency room error, you should speak with one of our medical malpractice attorneys now. The law limits the amount of time you have to file a claim for compensation, so the sooner you take action, the better.

Who Is Liable for Emergency Room Medical Malpractice?

It is crucial to note that doctors are not the only ones who can be held legally liable for emergency room medical malpractice. Any medical professional who fails to provide a specific standard of care to a patient could be named in a resulting medical malpractice lawsuit. Therefore, nurses, physician assistants, orderlies, and other emergency room personnel can be held liable if their negligence harms a patient.

Furthermore, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other responsible parties can be held liable under some circumstances. For example, hospitals can be held liable for the negligent actions of their employees if the employees were acting within the scope of their employment when the negligent act occurred. Additionally, a pharmaceutical company or a medical device manufacturer can sometimes be held liable if their product caused the harm. (For example, perhaps the product was mislabeled, contained insufficient warnings or instructions, or malfunctioned.)

Damages in an Emergency Room Malpractice Claim

The damages (or compensation) that a successful medical malpractice plaintiff can recover depends on the extent of their injuries/losses. The types of compensation that victims could be entitled to in emergency room malpractice cases include:

  • Medical bills (both past and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning capacity for the future
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Wrongful death damages

If the defendant(s) in a medical malpractice case acted particularly egregiously, then in addition to compensatory damages, the court may decide to award punitive damages to the plaintiff as well. Punitive damage awards are designed to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior from happening again in the future.

In Pennsylvania, there is a statute that caps punitive damages at three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded (with 25 percent of punitive damages distributed to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund). Additionally, New Jersey caps punitive damages at $350,000, or five times the compensatory damages, whichever is greater.

Why ER Malpractice Cases Can Be Complicated

Proving emergency room negligence in a medical malpractice case can be complicated for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, the law does not hold emergency room doctors (and other ER workers) to the same high standard of care that physicians and other non-emergent doctors are held to. This is mostly because emergency room doctors are often forced to treat patients immediately without being able to ask about their medical histories, allergies, etc. However, emergency room professionals are still required to provide care consistent with the care that other competent emergency room professionals would have provided under similar circumstances.

Additionally, ER malpractice cases can be complicated by the fact that emergency room doctors are generally employees of the hospital in which they are working. This means that the hospital itself can often be named as a defendant in emergency room negligence cases. Cases involving more than one liable party are more complex.

Furthermore, the fact that patients come to the emergency room itself for care, rather than coming to see a specific doctor, means that the hospital can often be held liable for ER negligence even if the negligent worker was a contractor rather than an employee of the hospital.

How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help

If you have been adversely affected by negligent care provided in an emergency room, you should definitely consult with one of our medical malpractice lawyers as soon as possible.

An experienced lawyer will be able to quickly evaluate the circumstances surrounding your injuries and determine whether you likely have a viable medical malpractice claim on your hands.

A lawyer can also discuss your legal rights with you and advise which course of action would be in your best interests.

If you ultimately decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, having an experienced attorney by your side will be key. A seasoned lawyer will know how to present your case in the most favorable light possible. This will include consulting with expert medical witnesses who will testify as to what the applicable industry standard of care is in your case and whether, in their opinion, the care that you received violated this standard.

Ultimately, a skilled medical malpractice lawyer can manage all the details of your claim, including dealing with the insurance companies. This will take the pressure off of you and allow you to focus on your recovery.

Talk to an Emergency Room Medical Malpractice Attorney Now

An emergency room visit is always a serious matter, whether you were transported there by EMS or you were able to walk in. When you visit an ER, you have a right to expect that your injuries or illness will be tended to promptly and responsibly. If a medical professional or facility failed to deliver the appropriate level of care, and you suffered new or additional harm as a result, you do not have to suffer silently. Help is available to you, and we encourage you to reach out right away.

Here at the law firm of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., our experienced medical malpractice attorneys serve injured and ill clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To overcome life’s toughest trials, you need determined, uncompromising advocacy, which is exactly what we provide to each and every one of our clients.

For a free, no obligation review of your potential ER malpractice claim, simply fill out our online contact form or give us a call. What do you have to lose? Find out what our firm can do for you today.