An ambulance drives down a busy road to transport a patient.

Dealing with Emergency Room Malpractice

Heart racing and in shock, you stand there hardly able to breathe. “One breath in, one breath out…” you remind yourself. You anxiously look at the clock, but the minutes seem to drag by. Minutes that seem like an eternity. 

If you’ve ever been in the middle of an emergency situation, then you know these feelings all too well. With stakes so high, doctors  NEED  to make quick and calculated decisions in order to save lives. But what happens if your doctor makes a bad call?

In this article we’ll help identify what emergency room medical malpractice looks like, and what you can do if you or your loved one has been a victim of it. 

A patient undergoes surgery in a room full of doctors and staff.

Common ER Mistakes

Each day, nurses and doctors clock in for their shift. Shifts that are long, tiresome, and unpredictable. Without a crystal ball, there’s no way to foresee what any given day may look like. Will a patient with a traumatic injury arrive via ambulance, or will a worried father of three check in for chest pain?

Working in the ER is tough, there’s no question about it. But when the average emergency room doctor makes $252,235 per year, and has sworn to the Hippocratic Oath, don’t they owe you their best? Burnout and fatigue aren’t good excuses when a patient dies.

Let’s take a look at some of the mistakes a person may experience:

► Failure to do a full physical exam – The four primary vital signs are blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiration. Continually monitoring these vital signs is crucial for a patient to have the best chance of survival. If your nurse or doctor isn’t doing this very basic thing then they’re failing you.

Failure to test for life-threatening conditions – What’s the use of technology if your doctor isn’t using it? With high tech imaging and detailed lab tests available, doctors have to make use of these amazing resources in order to do their job well. Invaluable resources that help diagnose and treat.

► Prompt correspondence with specialists – There’s no way a doctor can know EVERYTHING. With countless diseases and different approaches to treatment, there’s a reason doctors often choose an area of medicine to specialize in. If your doctor doesn’t have the knowledge necessary to treat you, they should be referring you to a specialist that does.

► Prescribing the wrong medication or incorrect dosage  Medication errors can be deadly. Accidental overdoses usually occur when protocol isn’t followed or staff members don’t pay close enough attention. Even Hollywood star, Dennis Quaid, dealt with the devastation of a medication error when his newborn twins were accidentally overdosed. Thankfully they survived.

► Surgical errors – Everyone makes mistakes…we get it, but the operating room isn’t the place for foolish errors and negligence. Leaving a 5 inch scalpel in a patient’s abdomen is insane. Sometimes doctors even operate on the wrong body part. WHAT?

►Patient dumping – This may shock you, but sometimes hospitals “dump” patients that don’t have the means to pay for services. “Victims typically fall into one ori more of the following categories: those with a mental health condition, undocumented or under-documented immigrants, and the homeless,” reads one article. A patient in Maryland was left at a bus stop in the freezing rain, wth only a hospital gown on.

A Young Mother’s Story

Let’s paint a picture of what negligence looks like. Theresa Boland, a young pregnant mother fought tooth and nail to receive treatment. At just 30 years old, she certainly didn’t suspect a blood clot, but she knew something was wrong.

And that’s why she made her way to the ER. Her leg pain was severe and was accompanied with redness and tingling. But doctors brushed off her symptoms (at three separate ER visits) as assuperficial thrombophlebitis, sciatica, and cellulitis.  Not one incorrect diagnosis, but three! After multiple ER visits, three ultrasounds, several phone consults, and a visit to her PCP she received the correct diagnosis: acute deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a blood clot.

“My DVT experience was terrifying and frustrating.  I cannot understand why it took a series of doctors and repeated ultrasounds to diagnose my DVT, especially since my symptoms were classic.”

-Theresa Boland

What would have happened if Theresa’s diagnosis had been delayed any further? Would Theresa and her unborn daughter have made it? Click here to read Theresa’s full account of the story.

A black and white image of a doctor's stethoscope.

ER Malpractice Can Cause Serious Injuries

Nurses and doctors play a significant role in the well-being of their patients. Generally they do a terrific job, but occasionally they make a mistake…and in emergency situations, those mistakes can be quite serious.

When medical malpractice occurs, it can result in paralysis, an diagnosed stroke, severe cardiac damage, a life threatening infection, and can produce many other issue. In the worse case scenarios, some patients even die.

What You Should Do If You’re A Victim

Medical malpractice errors can be costly, and not just in a financial sense. The emotional turmoil, alone, is so so heavy.

Bills pile up and wages are lost. How do you handle disability care, rehab, or burial costs?

It’s a lot to handle but you don’t have to go at it alone. A lawyer can fight on your behalf, and potentially help take back those financial losses and more. It certainly won’t fix everything, but it can help.

You don’t deserve to be in this situation. If your or your family member has been harmed by medical malpractice, please contact our office so that we can help you.