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Emergency Room Errors

Emergency RoomsWhen you or your loved ones are in the emergency room, the last thing you want is uncertainty or mistake. However, emergency room errors are distressingly common, and sometimes things simply do not go as planned. Understanding what constitutes malpractice in the emergency room can help you and your family avoid a long and difficult ordeal if something goes wrong.

Common Types of ER Errors

Emergency rooms are hectic places, and since they tend to operate in a particular manner, many of the same mistakes will show up over time. On the whole, three types of medical errors occur most commonly in emergency rooms. They are:

  • Diagnosis-related. Failure to diagnose, delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis make up a significant portion of all documented ER errors. A recent study by medical malpractice insurers found approximately 57 percent of claims analyzed occurred due to diagnosis-related errors.
  • Errors related to improperly performing correct treatments. Even when a diagnosis is correct, the correct course of treatment must be executed properly, lest the patient sustains an injury. One example of this would include failing to properly clean a wound, or inserting an IV into the wrong blood vessel.
  • Administering the wrong medication, or none at all. Sometimes medical professionals forget things, or simply make errors. Only approximately three percent of medical mistakes in the insurers’ study were due to this type of lapse, but deaths nonetheless resulted.

A host of different doctor or technician actions can be related to these causes. For example, if a doctor is hurried and discharges a patient from the ER before arriving at a differential diagnosis, or before adequate medication can be administered, the patient may suffer injury due to this negligence.

The Standard of Care

As with any other personal injury lawsuit, four criteria must be met in order to make it likely for the plaintiff to prevail: the existence of a duty of care, the breach of that duty, a showing that the doctor’s conduct was the cause of the breach, and harm suffered by the patient. The existence of a doctor-patient relationship is established by law in California, and in terms of harm, it is generally sufficient to show that a patient has suffered a long-term physical or emotional injury.

What many who attempt to mount malpractice suits often forget or misunderstand is that the question of breach of duty can be complex. It relies on the question of the standard of care - which, in California, can be established by asking one question: did the doctor (or other medical provider) use the same level of “skill, knowledge and care in diagnosis and treatment” that other reasonable careful providers would use in similar circumstances? If not, it is strongly persuasive that the doctor was negligent. This means that the standard of what is reasonable will differ in the emergency room; if someone is admitted to a hospital, there is much more time and space to conduct exhaustive testing, while in the emergency room, the immediate objective is to ensure that the patient does not die. This is important to keep in mind.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Because the standard of care differs in the emergency room from that in most other places, it can be very easy to become confused. Consulting an experienced medical malpractice attorney can make a big difference. The skilled San Jose medical malpractice lawyers at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. are well versed in these types of cases and are well-placed to help you and your family get back on your feet after an injury. Contact us today at (408) 289-1417 to set up an appointment. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Monterey and Alameda.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.