Emergency Room Errors May Amount to Medical Malpractice

There are very few people who have not visited an emergency room at some point in their lives. Even the most cautious person can slip and fall, or cut their finger with a kitchen knife, and end up being taken to the emergency room. In addition to emergency rooms, urgent care centers are becoming more and more common as an alternative to traditional hospital emergency rooms. For some patients, urgent care centers are more convenient than a trip to the doctor’s office or a crowded emergency room.

Equipment in a hospital room

No matter the venue, when a patient is in need of immediate medical care, the doctors charged with providing that care must provide the same level of care that other physicians, practicing urgent or emergency medicine, would provide under similar circumstances, taking into account a patient’s age and medical history. If they don’t, and their failure to meet these standards results in an injury or death to a patient, they may be liable for medical malpractice. Another name for medical malpractice is medical “negligence.”

For many patients, the worst part of an emergency room visit is the long wait before being seen. Hours after arriving at the emergency room doors, they are sent home with stitches, medication, or both. Usually, they return home tired but relatively healthy.

Unfortunately, however, there are times when a patient’s trip to the emergency room doesn’t go so smoothly. Emergency rooms and urgent care centers are hectic places. Doctors and nurses rush to see as many patients as possible. Shifts change, and patient information is passed from one provider to the next. Triage nurses are bombarded with new faces at all hours of the night.

In these circumstances, it is not surprising that some patients are sent home from the emergency room when they should really be admitted to the hospital, or that the severity of a patient’s presenting condition is improperly assessed and treatment inappropriately delayed. It is also not surprising that, as doctors and nurses rush to treat so many patients, and so much patient information is processed in such a short time, doctors fail to diagnose conditions requiring immediate treatment. They may also forget to order a necessary test, wait too long to review test results, prescribe inappropriate medication, or fail to prescribe necessary medication altogether.

Any of these errors could give rise to a malpractice claim. In Illinois, patients who are injured due to the malpractice of a health care provider, including any urgent care or emergency room personnel, may recover damages for their injuries. Damages can be either economic damages, for out-of-pocket expenses like lost wages and unpaid medical bills, or non-economic damages, for pain and suffering, disfigurement, or a loss of enjoyment in life.

Nationwide Survey Indicates Extensive Use of Emergency Rooms

According to a recent survey, Americans made approximately 136 million visits to the emergency room in 2011. In over 90 million of these visits, one or more diagnostic service was provided. In over 60 million of these visits, one or more procedure was performed. In approximately six million visits, no follow-up was planned for the patient.

During the same year, in over 30 million of these visits, one medication was provided or prescribed, with two or more medications provided or prescribed in approximately 45% of visits. In total, there were nearly 45 emergency room visits for every 100 people in the population in 2011.

Is It Possible That You Were Injured During an Emergency Room Visit?

With so much activity in emergency rooms, and so many Americans going to emergency rooms for treatment, surgical errors are bound to happen. When this happens, you need lawyers who understand the way in which emergency rooms operate, how medical errors are committed, and what it will take to make you whole again. At Moll Law Group, we strive to get you the compensation you deserve and to help improve the safety of emergency rooms for everyone. For a free consultation, call 312.462.1700.

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