By their very nature, emergency rooms are extremely chaotic and hurried environments. Emergency room doctors and nurses attend to patients who were not expecting to seek medical care, but arrived in the emergency department as a result of a sudden accident, violent attack, or immediate onset of an illness or other serious medical condition.
This hectic environment can lead to mistakes. Due to the realities of emergency room situations, more leeway is often given to emergency room workers than other physicians and nurses who have time to thoroughly consider possible courses of treatment.
However, the chaotic nature of emergency rooms does not absolve medical professionals from providing a reasonable standard of care, nor does it protect negligent doctors, nurses, and other ER workers from liability in cases of medical malpractice.
If you or someone you love has suffered at the hands of a negligent emergency room professional, the experienced emergency room error attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright can help. Call us today at (407) 712-7300 for a free consultation. Our attorneys have more than a century of combined experience serving clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and other areas across Florida.
Misdiagnosis By Emergency Room Doctors
Failure to accurately diagnose a patient’s condition can make a bad situation much worse. When emergency room doctors fail to meet the standard of care by misdiagnosing their patients, they may be held liable for medical malpractice.
Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis can occur in an emergency department for numerous reasons. ER doctors work in rushed environments. They often have too many patients and not enough time to devote to each one, especially on holidays or in the middle of the night when the ER is understaffed.
When patients are backlogged, they may be seen by a physician’s assistant. When this happens errors can be missed because a rushed doctor may sign off on a chart without fully reading it, or fail to thoroughly review a patient’s medical records.
In some cases, differential diagnoses are not made, meaning that a doctor becomes focused on one diagnosis and fails to consider other possibilities. Additionally, some emergency room doctors are inexperienced or recent graduates from medical school. This lack of real-world experience can lead to a misdiagnosis.
Common types of misdiagnosis in an emergency room can include:
- Failure to Diagnose Abdominal Pain
- Failure to Diagnose Intracranial Bleeding
- Failure to Diagnose Heart Attack
- Failure to Diagnose Stroke
- Failure to Diagnose Respiratory Disease
- Failure to Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism
Delayed Treatment In Emergency Rooms
When you enter an emergency, it is usually because you or a loved one needs critical or emergency medical care that cannot wait. Unfortunately, due to short-staffing, overcrowding, underfunding, and occasionally just overall apathy or poor care, many patients are not seen and treated within a safe timeframe. When emergency room treatment is delayed, the consequences can be devastating and even fatal.
There aren’t any published guidelines that establish reasonable timeframes for every possible complaint, injury, or illness an emergency room patient may present. While guidelines do exist for specific conditions such as stroke and chest pain, the majority of questions regarding whether treatment was soon enough or too late depend on the unique facts of each case.
Not every long wait in the emergency room constitutes medical malpractice. Two key criteria must be met in order to consider a claim of medical malpractice: (a) the healthcare provider acted negligently, and (b) the healthcare provider’s negligence caused injury or harm.
In medical malpractice claims, the determination of negligence is based on the standard of care, namely, how another medical professional would act under similar circumstances.
To determine whether a delay was reasonable, a medical malpractice attorney may hire expert witnesses to consider the following questions:
- Did the patient exhibit signs of an urgent condition, such as a stroke or heart attack?
- Was a patient instructed to wait despite a clearly emergent condition?
- Was there an unexpected shortage of doctors, nurses, or equipment?
- Was there an unusual surge of patients?
- Was a doctor or nurse surfing the internet or chatting on the phone instead of efficiently assessing patients?
Once it has been established that the delayed treatment was unreasonable, it must be proven that a timelier treatment would have significantly altered the outcome in the situation. This can be incredibly difficult to prove and requires the testimony of expert witnesses.
The emergency room error attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright have extensive experience in these complex matters. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to demonstrate the facts of your case and effectively pursue the compensation you deserve.
Failure to Treat Infection in the Emergency Room
Infections require proper and aggressive antibiotic treatment as soon as they arise. Failure to promptly treat infections in a timely manner can cause treatable infections to develop into serious conditions such as sepsis and/or septic shock. Patients with sepsis may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Increased white blood cell count
- Reddish-colored rash with dark spots on the skin
- Pain in ankle joints, knees, back, elbows, arms, and wrists
- Decreased urination
Septic arthritis is another type of infection that may develop in the absence of timely treatment. Symptoms of septic arthritis can include fever, joint swelling, and sharp pain.
Failure to Treat Internal Bleeding in the Emergency Room
Depending on the severity, untreated internal bleeding can result in coma, organ failure, and even death. It’s crucial to identify and treat internal bleeding very quickly in order to prevent potential complications.
Rest and symptom control may be enough to treat very mild cases of internal bleeding. However, some internal bleeding situations demand more extensive treatment. For example, surgery may be necessary to stop the internal bleeding and clean out any blood that has pooled or accumulated. Once the bleeding has been stopped, treatment should focus on stabilizing the body and repairing any damage.
When determining appropriate treatment for internal bleeding, the doctor will likely consider:
- The patient’s overall health
- The organ or blood vessel that was injured
- The severity of the bleeding’s cause
Failure to treat internal bleeding can have catastrophic, life-altering consequences. An experienced attorney can assess the situation and call on expert witnesses to determine if the standard of care was met or if malpractice may have occurred.
Emergency Room Medication Errors
Medication errors are alarmingly frequent in healthcare settings, and especially in critical care areas and emergency rooms. Some of the most common emergency room medication errors include:
- Incorrect dose
- Failure to provide medication
- Incorrect timing
- Incorrect strength of the drug
- Incorrect duration of administering the drug
- Expired or improperly-stored medication
The leading cause of medication errors in emergency rooms is distractions. In fact, distraction contributes to nearly 75% of all medication errors in the U.S. In the rushed environments of an emergency room, physicians may experience a lapse in judgment, which results in a devastating, if not fatal, medication error.
Inexperienced or Untrained Emergency Room Staff
Most emergency rooms follow strict protocols to ensure and promote patient safety. When emergency staff is inexperienced or inadequately trained, breaches in protocol are more likely, and patients are put at risk.
These errors can include things like triage errors. A triage error occurs when someone requiring urgent care, such as a heart attack sufferer, is made to wait behind other patients with less urgent conditions.
Emergency Room Testing Errors and Delayed Testing
One of the biggest causes of missed and delayed diagnoses is the doctor’s failure to order an appropriate diagnostic test. These can include x-rays, MRIs, blood tests, CT scans, and other diagnostic tests. When medical tests aren’t ordered or aren’t ordered in time, patients’ health conditions go overlooked. This mistake can cause a patient severe, undue harm.
The most common reasons for diagnostic errors include:
- Failures in judgment
- Memory or vigilance
From heart attacks to appendicitis to fractures and much, much more, testing errors can occur in countless scenarios. Perhaps an internal specialist neglected to order a PSA test for a patient with urinary symptoms. A gynecologist may fail to order a mammogram for a patient who reported changes in her breasts. Regardless of who is responsible for a testing error, the liable party should be held accountable for the damages caused by their negligence. Our attorneys have extensive experience in these matters and can help you pursue justice in your case.
Equipment Failure and Unsanitary Equipment in Emergency Rooms
Specialized equipment is used every day by medical professionals to measure biological data, make diagnoses, provide treatment, and save lives. Modern healthcare is incredibly reliant on technology and medical engineering. In addition to having access to advanced technology, medical professionals must be educated and trained on how to use these complex systems correctly in order to treat patients properly.
Depending on the equipment involved, equipment failure is typically classified into three main categories:
- Specialized care equipment failure: Emergency care, postoperative care, intensive care units, post-natal care, and even the diagnosis of certain conditions require the use of specialized equipment. When equipment fails or malfunctions, especially in emergency rooms or ICUs, the consequences can be dire.
- Diagnostic equipment failure: When properly diagnosed in a timely manner, many medical conditions can be treated and fully averted. However, accurate diagnoses depend on timely testing and fully-functioning equipment. Diagnostic equipment failure can delay a necessary diagnosis or even cause a misdiagnosis.
- Medical monitor failures: Monitors are crucial components of effective treatment in emergency rooms. Failures in monitoring equipment can put patients at great risk and lead to serious complications and even death.
Causes of Emergency Room Equipment Failure
Medical equipment in emergency rooms can fail for numerous reasons. Some of the most common causes of emergency room equipment failure include:
- Failure to maintain sanitary equipment
- Poor insulations
- Loose connections
- Electricity overload
- Poorly trained or inexperienced staff operating equipment
- Moisture or humidity
- Wiring mistakes
- Failure to replace malfunctioning parts
- Failure to conduct periodic maintenance checks
Fatal Emergency Room Errors
In the most tragic cases, errors in the emergency room can result in a patient’s death. If you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of an emergency room worker, you may be able to seek compensation for your emotional and financial losses in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Depending on the details of your case, you may be able to seek damages for:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional distress
While no monetary reward can ever make up for the crushing loss of a loved one, compensation in a wrongful death claim can help your family avoid financial devastation while you grieve and move forward.
How Our Emergency Room Error Attorneys Can Help
The emergency room error attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright have helped victims of medical malpractice in Florida pursue just compensation for their pain and suffering for decades. We have the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to fight relentlessly on your behalf. We have access to medical experts who can meticulously review your case and determine if the emergency room workers failed to provide a reasonable standard of care.
We know what a difficult time this may be for you and your family. Our attorneys will handle every aspect of your case so you can focus solely on healing. We’ll keep you up-to-date on the developments in your case and explain all of your legal options to help you make informed decisions. This is your life and your case. We will help to ensure your rights and best interests are protected.
Call an Emergency Room Error Lawyer Today
Don’t face your illness or injury alone. If an emergency healthcare provider failed to provide the standard of care in your treatment and you suffered as a result, contact the emergency room error attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright today to discuss your case for free.
Contact us now online or at (407) 712-7300 to schedule your FREE, no-obligation consultation. Colling Gilbert Wright serve clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and other areas throughout Florida and nationwide.