Common Emergency Room Errors & Potential Consequences
Posted on October 10, 2023 in Medical Malpractice
Mistakes happen in emergency rooms, and these mistakes can lead to serious injuries, illnesses, or even death for a patient. Here, we want to examine some of the most common errors that occur in the emergency room as well as potential consequences for patients. In some cases, individuals may be able to recover compensation, but due to the complex nature of these incidents, it is imperative for victims to seek assistance from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Portland.
Most Common Emergency Room Mistakes and How They Happen
Johns Hopkins researchers have said that as many as 250,000 people lose their lives each year due to preventable medical mistakes. Not all of these mistakes occur in emergency room settings, but emergency departments are areas primed for mistakes to occur. These are areas where doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are often understaffed but incredibly busy with patients who need help.
Even though most individuals do not sustain injuries or illnesses caused by the negligence of emergency room medical providers, mistakes do occur. Some of the most common emergency room errors include:
- Medical misdiagnosis. A misdiagnosis can occur when a doctor, nurse, or other diagnosing professional improperly diagnosis the patient, misreads a test result, misinterprets symptoms, etc. In the worst-case scenario of a misdiagnosis, a person who needs treatment would be told they are okay and then sent away from the emergency room without any further treatment.
- Failing to perform the required tests. Emergency room officials could fail to properly triage a patient, or they could ignore a patient who needs various tests like X-rays, MRIs, blood work, etc.
- Delayed treatment. Emergency rooms are busy, and they often have to perform triage in a separate area in order to efficiently see the patients who need the most help. However, sometimes, this can lead to patients receiving delayed treatment when they need emergency care.
- Improper patient medications. Most individuals who go to the emergency room are administered medications. Sometimes, particularly if doctors fail to properly diagnose a patient or are given improper information, the wrong medication or the wrong dosage could be administered.
- Failing to follow up. Even after a patient leaves the emergency room, whether that is to go to another room in the hospital, to a rehab facility, or back to their home, doctors are responsible for providing proper follow-up treatment instructions.
Consequences for a Patient
If a patient receives improper care in an emergency room, they could experience a wide range of medical conditions. Some of the possible injuries or serious complications that can occur due to an emergency room mistake include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Heart attacks
- Internal bleeding
- A worsening of current symptoms
- Delayed treatment of a major medical condition
- Allergic reactions
Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical mistakes often mean a patient has to undergo extended medical treatment. This medical treatment could be to fix any harm caused by the medical error or to treat conditions that were not properly treated on time due to a delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis. If a person believes they have been harmed due to a mistake made in an emergency room, they should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled medical malpractice lawyer with experience handling emergency room errors can examine the facts of the case and help determine the best steps moving forward.
It is important to point out that medical malpractice claims are incredibly challenging. There are specific procedures in place individuals need to understand about filing a medical malpractice claim, which is why having an attorney is vital. Your attorney can examine the case and get the claim filed on time within the medical malpractice statute of limitations.
Your lawyer will also enlist assistance from trusted medical professionals who can evaluate you and examine all of your medical records. Your lawyer will also work with trusted economic and financial experts to adequately calculate total expected losses.
Types of Compensation Available
There may be various types of compensation available for patients who sustain injuries or illnesses due to an emergency room mistake. An attorney will likely work to recover both economic and non-economic damages, which can include the following:
- Economic damages. These are the relatively calculable losses associated with medical malpractice claims. This means that a patient can obtain receipts, bills, invoices, and other means of documentation to adequately calculate the following:
- Emergency medical expenses
- Costs of all ongoing medical treatment required
- Medical devices and prescription medications
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
- Household out-of-pocket expenses
- Non-economic damages. These types of damages are not as easily calculable as the economic damages just reviewed. These are the types of losses that revolve around a patient’s pain and suffering associated with the emergency room error, including their:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium for a spouse or family member
Time Limit for Filing an Emergency Room Malpractice Claim
Every state sets its own limitations for how long victims have to file medical malpractice claims, including claims related to emergency room mistakes. In the state of Oregon, the medical malpractice statute of limitations is two years from the date the injury or illness occurred or when the injury or illness should reasonably have been discovered. If a malpractice victim fails to file a lawsuit within this time frame, they will likely become unable to recover any compensation at all.
There are various exceptions to this two-year time frame. For example, any person under the age of 18 or any individual deemed to be “insane” who has been harmed due to a medical error will have five years from the date of the alleged malpractice or one year from when the person turns 18 or is no longer determined to be “insane,” whichever date comes first.
You should work with your medical malpractice lawyer to file your claim as soon as possible to avoid any claim denials.