Emergency Room Care Failures
The emergency room is often a chaotic scene, with many patients in various degrees of pain or illness and medical professionals trying to stabilize, diagnose, and simply keep track of all the patients. However, if you are suddenly injured or ill, you rely on this fast-paced emergency department to provide the treatment and assistance that you need. You should expect that all of the medical professionals and staff in the emergency room are properly trained and in the proper mindset to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. This is often challenging, however, as ER staff work long hours in a high-stress environment, so it can be easy to become fatigued. When emergency room doctors become fatigued, they can lose focus and make errors.
The failure to provide proper care in the emergency room can leave patients with serious injuries that could have possibly been prevented with the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. At the Johnston Law Firm, our Portland emergency room hospital malpractice attorneys have helped many clients who were needlessly injured in the emergency department. If you have sustained injuries or complications, please call us today to discuss a possible claim.
Common Errors in Portland Emergency Rooms
While many different errors can occur in the ER, the following are some of the most common:
Delaying proper treatment: The emergency department can be notorious for long wait times. Sometimes, you may wait hours before you are even evaluated by a doctor. If medical staff fail to identify that you have a medical condition that needs immediate attention, you can suffer additional injury if you are left unattended without treatment for a long period of time.
Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose: You generally go to the ER because you are experiencing signs or symptoms of an injury or illness. The emergency room doctors should ask all of the necessary questions and perform all of the necessary tests to properly diagnose your condition. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis can occur and can be very harmful if you have a serious condition. For example, if you had a heart attack and the ER doctor diagnoses you with indigestion (an all too common misdiagnosis), you may be sent home still unaware that you have serious heart issues. Without the treatment you need, you would be at greater risk for a future heart attack, which can be life-threatening.
Medication errors: A lot of medication is administered in the emergency departments. Because ERs have a high turnover of patients, doctors and nurses are often not very familiar with patients and if they do not pay close attention, they can mix up medications. Medication errors can include giving the wrong medication to the wrong patient, giving the wrong dosage, or forgetting to give important medication altogether.
Wrongful discharge: Even though emergency rooms want to get patients through as quickly as possible to make room for new patients, staff should be careful to not improperly discharge any patients prematurely. If a patient needs to stay in the hospital and receives discharge papers to go home, they may leave without the treatment they need. In addition, patients should never be discharged without all of the information and instructions they need to care for themselves in the coming hours, days, and weeks while they recover.
Who is Liable for ER Errors?
When an emergency room fails to provide the proper care, you may wonder: who is responsible? The answer depends on the situation and the specific mistakes that happened. For instance, emergency room nurses are generally employees of the hospital, so the hospital may be held liable for their negligent errors. However, doctors are generally independent contractors and usually held liable for their own malpractice. In some cases involving ER failures, hospitals still may be held liable for a doctor’s negligence because a patient may not realize the doctor is an independent contractor. It is critical to have an experienced attorney review the situation to determine who may be held accountable for your injuries. Once this determination is made, you may seek compensation for:
- Medical bills as a result of your injuries;
- Lost income if you missed work;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Permanent disability caused by your injury or illness.
Call a Portland Emergency Room Malpractice Lawyer for Help
If you believe that you received substandard care in an emergency room and that you suffered unnecessary complications or injuries as a result, please call the Johnston Law Firm in Portland as soon as possible. We offer free consultations, so please call us at (503) 546-3167 for help today.