4 Elements of a Successful Malpractice Case Against an Emergency Room

An emergency room visit is a stressful circumstance. You may have to wait a long time with a serious condition or injury to see a doctor who may be rushed and not familiar with your medical history. This situation often makes it more likely that an error will occur, and as a result, the emergency room is one of the top hospital departments in terms of malpractice suits. 

If you didn't receive adequate care in the emergency room, you may be able to sue the medical personnel who treated you and the hospital as well. The following conditions can help prove your case:

1. You suffered harm

You may leave the emergency room irritated and inconvenienced, but have you actually been harmed? Did you experience additional pain or costs to correct their errors as a result of the action or inaction of medical personnel? Were you unable to work afterwards? In order to have a successful case, you must have been harmed in some way.

2. Your caregivers were negligent

Medicine, unfortunately, isn't an exact science. A doctor may do everything right but come to a wrong but reasonable conclusion about your health. In some cases, however, a mistake may rise to the level of medical malpractice. You may have suffered harm, but you'll have to prove that a doctor, nurse, or other caregiver was negligent. You'll need to show that a competent medical professional wouldn't have made the mistake under the same circumstances. 

Be aware, though, that the circumstances faced in an emergency room may be very different from those that a doctor faces in his private practice during regular hours. The emergency room can be a crowded environment with several life-threatening cases at once. This doesn't mean that the hospital and personnel are immune from malpractice claims, but under some circumstances, they may be more difficult to prove.

3. You weren't treated  Almost all hospitals receive Medicare funding, and as a result, they're bound by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. Under this federal law, you can't be turned away, even if you can't pay.

Emergency room personnel must provide a medical screening examination. If this exam reveals an emergency medical condition, the hospital must stabilize you as much as possible or transfer you to a hospital that can treat you appropriately. This law also requires specialized facilities such as burn or trauma centers to accept transfers if they're able to.

This means that if you didn't receive the care you deserved, then you could address this in court.

4. You weren't treated within a reasonable period of time

Emergency rooms obviously can't control the number of patients who may need help at any given time. But personnel are responsible for summoning on-call doctors and nurses for additional help and evaluating and treating the most serious cases first. Again, this doesn't involve mere inconvenience, but negligence that causes harm. If you're not treated quickly enough, the result can be serious or even deadly.

Consult a personal injury attorney if you think you may have a case against a hospital or its emergency room personnel. He or she can help evaluate the facts and offer advice on the best way to proceed.

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