Emergency rooms treat over 140 million people yearly.1.5 million are immediately transferred to critical care units while hundreds of thousands are treated and released. In this chaotic environment, overworked doctors, nurses, and hospital staff work feverishly to attend to the medical emergencies of a constant flow of patients. This rush often lends itself to critical mistakes resulting in injuries, infections, misdiagnosed medical conditions, and even death.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm or death due to negligent mistakes in an emergency room, you need to consult with a Baltimore emergency room injury attorney. To determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries or a loved one’s death after an emergency room visit or hospital mistake, call the experienced malpractice lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras. Call (410) 431-0911 today to schedule a free case consultation.
Common Medical Errors in Emergency Rooms Leading to Serious Injury
Medical errors and mistakes happen in approximately 20% of all emergency room treatments. Only about 2% of these errors result in serious adverse effects for the patient.
Because of the limited time and the number and seriousness of many of the cases in an emergency department, the most common errors involve diagnosis. Misdiagnosis of a medical condition or a delay in diagnosis can result in serious harm. Furthermore, an emergency room doctor may fail to consult or access the patient’s medical records, which could make proper diagnosis even harder.
Improper management of a patient’s treatment can also result from the doctor’s and the medical staff’s exhaustion. ER doctors, nurses, and other staff members often work long hours and can commit errors when they are tired. Stress, exhaustion, and restricted time can compromise a physician’s decision-making ability, potentially resulting in adverse outcomes for the patient. Exhaustion can also lead to medical errors, such as an improperly sutured wound, a badly inserted IV, or a prolonged X-ray leading to radiation burns. Inattention can also result in improperly counted surgical instruments, potentially allowing instruments or sponges to be left inside an emergency room patient during surgery.
A misdiagnosis or a failure to review a full medical history can result in prescription medication mistakes, potentially causing dangerous drug interactions or allergic reactions. Poor communication among the doctor, their medical staff, and the patient can also result in medication errors or an overdose.
An emergency room gets a continual flow of sick and injured people, and a substantial burden is placed on hospital staff to maintain an acceptable level of cleanliness. Failure to keep the emergency room properly cleaned or sterilized can result in a heightened level of bacteria and an increased chance of infection.
Patients’ conduct can also increase the risk of harm. Failing to provide accurate medical information could jeopardize the diagnosis or treatment. The risk of injury or death can increase if a patient does not comply with any post-op instructions, recommended treatments, or follow-up appointments.
Maryland follows the contributory negligence doctrine in personal injury claims. This doctrine says that if a jury finds a patient’s own actions were partially to blame for their own injury, they will be unable to collect damages. It is important to consult a Baltimore injury attorney to discuss how your own actions might have contributed to your injury and how this will affect your medical malpractice claim for an emergency room death or hospital mistake.
Baltimore Malpractice Lawsuits for Emergency Room Injuries and Death
Proof of malpractice in Maryland requires demonstrating four separate elements: duty, breach, causation, and harm.
Under a standard duty of care, a doctor or another medical professional owes a patient reasonable treatment for their condition. The standard of care is often lower in an emergency room to account for the rush and pressure. However, a doctor or nurse still must act reasonably and professionally.
Next, you must prove that the medical professional breached that duty of care. Breach means that the medical professional deviated from the established standard of care. A simple mistake does not always rise to a breach – it must be a serious and unjustifiable error that is outside the normal complications of the procedure.
Third, the medical professional’s mistake must directly cause the injury. If the doctor’s care did nothing to worsen the patient’s condition or the patient could not have been saved by even the best emergency treatment, the doctor’s negligence might not have caused the injury or death.
Finally, the mistake must have caused actual damages. Economic damages are usually measurable, such as medical costs, lost income, legal fees, funeral expenses, or other related costs. Noneconomic damages are more difficult to measure and often include pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Holding a Baltimore Hospital Liable for Mistakes, Injuries, and Death
Medical malpractice claims are not limited to your physician; other medical professionals and hospital employees might also be held liable for their negligence. A hospital is usually liable for the negligent conduct of its employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior. This means a hospital could be held vicariously liable for an employee’s negligent conduct if the employee was acting within the scope of their employment when the negligent act or omission occurred.
In most circumstances, a doctor or health care provider in private practice is considered an independent contractor and not a hospital employee. A hospital is generally immune from liability for the conduct of an independent contractor – the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply. However, a hospital can often be liable for negligent acts by independent contractors who operate or work in an emergency department. Talk to one of our Baltimore hospital mistake attorneys to help determine if the hospital can be held liable for your injuries.
Call a Baltimore Injury Attorney for Emergency Room Deaths or Hospital Mistakes
Doctors and nurses make mistakes in emergency room treatments. If you or a loved has suffered harm or death from the negligent conduct of medical professionals or hospital employees while receiving emergency room treatment consult a Baltimore injury attorney today. The experienced emergency room death and hospital mistake attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can help you get compensated for your harm. Call (410) 431-0911 today to schedule a free consultation.