Emergency Room Negligence
Emergency rooms are staffed by specially trained medical professionals. Emergency room doctors and their support staff must act quickly as they diagnose and treat patients. In many cases, the patient’s life is on the line. Emergency room professionals often work miracles and save lives. For this they are applauded. However, this is not always the case. There are more than 315 hospitals in Florida and most have emergency rooms. As well, there are hundreds of urgent care clinics and other emergency treatment centers in the state.
- Medical errors commonly occur in emergency rooms and often result in injury or death.
Emergency Room Statistics and Information
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal the following emergency room information.
During a recent year, there were:
- 130.4 million visits
- 37.2 million injury-related visits
- 29.8% - patient seen in less than 15 minutes
What Are Some of the Most Common Reasons Patients Go to Emergency Rooms?
- Chest pains – possible heart attack
- Stroke symptoms – sudden paralysis of the face and/or body
- Breathing difficulties and complications
- Fractures, sprains and other bone-related issues
- Contusions – deep cuts, bleeding
- Head trauma – including possible traumatic brain injury
- Abdominal pain – distress in the stomach or intestines
- Drug overdose – everything from Tylenol to heroin
- Alcohol poisoning – too much alcohol can lead to death
- Motor vehicle accidents - neck, back, skull, skin, extremity injuries
- Victims of gun violence, domestic violence and other violence
Examples of Emergency Room Negligence
Sick and injured patients go to the emergency room for immediate help, but often become victims of medical negligence.
There are many reasons for this, including the following examples:
- Diagnostic delays, which often results in exacerbating the condition
- Failure to diagnose – this may include a lack of diagnostic exams
- Failing to conduct a thorough medical background check or interview
- Delays - letting patient remain in the waiting or intake room too long without treatment
- Failure to diagnose heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening condition
- Surgical errors – inept surgeries, operating on the incorrect body part, leaving surgical instruments in the body, and so much more
- Medication and pharmacy errors – incorrect drug or dosage, reaction to medication
- Drugs administered improperly – IV infiltration error, drug is improperly injected
- Lab test errors, inaccurate results, wrong tests administered
- Communication errors – failing to communicate with patient’s primary physician, failure to communicate with the next shift of doctors and medical professionals
- Failure to refer patient to the proper specialist while in the hospital or after release
- Releasing patient before they are treated or healthy
Emergency Room Standard of Care
Emergency room physicians and healthcare professionals have a duty to adhere to the proper medical standard of care. This basically means that they must provide reasonable and acceptable health care treatment to the patient. How is this determined? By considering the type of treatment other similarly credentialed, reasonable and prudent healthcare professionals provide. Was the treatment prudent, appropriate and reasonable under the circumstances? Or did the treatment deviate from these standards?
If the medical treatment deviates from the standard of care, resulting in harm or injury to the patient, medical negligence may have occurred and the victim may pursue damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. If a patient died, the legal heirs may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Compensatory Damages for Injury or Death from Emergency Room Negligence
The Florida Statutes proscribe the details of economic and noneconomic damages.
“Economic damages” means financial losses that would not have occurred but for the injury giving rise to the cause of action, including, but not limited to, past and future medical expenses and wage loss and loss of earning capacity to the extent the claimant is entitled to recover such damages under general law, including the Wrongful Death Act.” Fl. Stat. Sec. 766.202(3)
“Noneconomic damages” means nonfinancial losses that would not have occurred but for the injury giving rise to the cause of action, including pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, and other nonfinancial losses to the extent the claimant is entitled to recover such damages under general law, including the Wrongful Death Act.” Sec. 766.202(8).
"Punitive Damages" - in cases of extreme recklessness and disregard to the patient, punitive damages may be available to punish the medical professional and/or hospital and others.
You can reach Miami Personal Injury Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email J.P. directly at [email protected].
- From the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/emergency-department.htm
- Chapter 766, Florida Statutes; Sections 766.202(3), 766.202(8)