Going to an emergency room can be frightening. Patients are in a vulnerable position and need the care of medical professionals to get through their health crisis. Though many trust the expertise of medical providers, mistakes can happen.
If something goes wrong in the ER and a patient is injured or harmed, they may be unsure whether they can sue an ER. Typically, medical malpractice cases name medical providers or hospitals as defendants, rather than a department within a hospital.
While a lawsuit might not name an ER specifically, it is possible to bring a lawsuit against a provider or hospital for malpractice that happened during treatment in an ER.
At the core of a medical malpractice lawsuit is the need to prove negligent actions led to an injury. However, not all mistakes can be characterized as negligence.
Attorney Robert S. Miller, Managing Partner at Wapner Newman, explains, “Medical malpractice cases can be very complicated. When you need to determine if negligence led to an injury in an ER, an attorney experienced in medical malpractice lawsuits is your best resource.”
In a lawsuit, an attorney would also need to show that negligent actions caused injury. Because there can be numerous causes for an injury, this can be a difficult task.
Medical records are essential to any medical malpractice case, and careful documentation of the care received should be part of the information gathered.
Because treatment in ERs can be fast-paced, opportunities for errors can be higher than in other medical settings. The most common mistake is a misdiagnosis.
A failure to order a diagnostic test or a mistaken reading of a test can lead to misdiagnosis. Obtaining an incomplete medical history or not performing a full medical exam can also contribute to a misdiagnosis.
If an attorney shows clearly that an emergency department doctor was negligent when they didn’t diagnose a health condition or injury, then the doctor and possibly the hospital could be named in a lawsuit.
When a patient has been harmed, they may turn to lawyers for help, but not know who can be held legally liable for their injuries.
“It’s important to speak with an attorney so you understand not only who you can sue for medical malpractice, but also how your legal case can proceed,” says Miller.