Can I Sue ER Doctors for Emergency Room Malpractice?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Often, a trip to the emergency room is an unavoidable and unplanned necessity. You need medical assistance right away, and fortunately, ER doctors and nurses are there to attend to your needs, whether you’ve had an unexpected allergic reaction or your appendix has burst. Unfortunately, even ER doctors make mistakes, which could cause you considerable pain and high medical bills. If this happens, can you sue the ER medical team for emergency room malpractice?
Although emergency room staff undergo extensive training, the ER is a hectic place, requiring doctors and nurses to make quick decisions regarding your medical care. Errors can occur during medical emergencies in everything from diagnosis, medication selection to simple acts of moving a patient too quickly. At times like this, a patient may have a valid lawsuit against the ER doctors and the hospital that employs them.
Consulting with an experienced Michigan emergency room malpractice attorney ensures you know not only your rights but also the legal options available for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. If a medical mistake led to a harmful condition or the death of a loved one, filing a lawsuit is a way to get needed compensation.
Examples of Emergency Room Malpractice
If you have been to an emergency room, you already may know of the chaotic environment it can be. According to statistics compiled by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), over 130 million visits to emergency departments occur yearly. Several of these visits result in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Examples of the types of malpractice during emergency room visits most commonly occurring include:
- Misdiagnosis of a medical condition
- Failure to make a diagnosis, such as for infection, fractures, pneumonia, ectopic pregnancy, ruptured organs, internal bleeding, heart attack symptoms, impending stroke, nerve damage, or Lyme disease
- Mistaken actions, such as during active labor
- Medication errors
- Failure to order necessary tests
- Failure to interpret test results appropriately
- Anesthesia errors
- Premature discharge of patient
- Failure to refer patient to a specialist
Many other actions can be mishandled by the attending ER doctor and lead to a malpractice case.
Proving an Emergency Room Medical Malpractice Claim
To be successful in an emergency room malpractice case, three main elements must exist.
1. Doctor-Patient Relationship
A doctor-patient relationship existed at the time of the alleged malpractice. If a doctor examines or provides treatment to a patient in an emergency room, the doctor-patient relationship is considered established. Your lawyer can usually prove this element with ER admittance records and medical charts.
Your treatment in the emergency room involved negligence. Negligence occurs when a doctor fails to provide the quality of care usually provided by other reasonably competent doctors under similar situations. Two areas to prove under negligence are that a standard of care exists and that a breach of that standard of care occurred.
- ER standard of care: A standard of care refers to a level of competence doctors in a similar circumstance would exercise when treating an ER patient.
While a standard of care exists for all doctors in all settings, the emergency room setting differs when life-threatening conditions exist and time is limited for tests such as an MRI or CT scan. For your case, an expert witness establishes the standard of care that should occur in a particular situation and shows how the ER doctor deviated from this.
- Breach of standard of care: The established standard of care was, in some way, breached. Expert testimony can prove how the ER doctor failed to provide you with the appropriate standard of care.
As a result of such negligence, you were harmed. There must be a causal link between the doctor’s negligence and the harm occurring.
Each of these elements is essential to your medical malpractice case. However, the second element of negligence is the most difficult to prove and why you need an experienced medical malpractice lawyer on your side. Eileen Kroll, a partner with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., brings her legal expertise in this area and medical background as an RN for over ten years.
How a Michigan Emergency Room Malpractice Attorney Can Help
There are several ways an attorney can help with your emergency room malpractice claim once an attorney-client relationship is established. While each case is different, a malpractice attorney can help with legal advice and by any or all of the following:
- Investigation and compilation of records to show the doctor-patient relationship and the harmful damages resulting from negligence by an emergency room doctor.
- Identify the best expert witnesses to establish the expected standard of care and how it was breached.
- Determine all parties to include in your malpractice lawsuit, which can be the ER doctor, hospital or facility, and physician group.
- Calculate damages to add to your claim, including those for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, as well as others specific to your circumstances.
- Negotiate with all insurance companies to ensure you receive the highest possible settlement available.
- Represent you at trial if no settlement is acceptable.
- File a wrongful death lawsuit if any loved one dies as a result of emergency room neglect.
Contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.
If you or loved ones experience medical negligence while in an emergency room, you deserve to receive compensation for any harm occurring as a result. For help, contact the experienced malpractice professionals at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., for a full review of your case. Call 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your confidential, free consultation with one of our attorneys today.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.