Can I Make a Medical Malpractice Claim for an Injury Caused by an Understaffed Emergency Room?

No matter where you are if you are in a medical facility for treatment, including the emergency room (ER), there is a level of care that you should expect from the medical staff. When that level of care is not met, and the neglect causes an injury, a medical malpractice claim could hold water. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there are roughly 145.6 million emergency room visits in the U.S. each year. Emergency rooms, by their very nature, are hectic and fast-paced, so it is no surprise that these rooms are chronically overpopulated and understaffed. Many nurses, doctors, and medical staff are forced to work inhumane hours and pull doubles frequently to have just enough professionals present in the ER to provide the minimum amount of care and attention for each patient. 

Although medical professionals in the ER are at a disadvantage because of unfair staffing choices made by the powers that be and other extenuating circumstances, they are still expected to give the appropriate level of care. Unfortunately, understaffed ERs have an abundance of inexperienced, part-time staff, and patients who require anything from a few stitches or sprain supports to treatment for heart attacks, strokes, or bullet wounds. The mixed bag of health conditions, data, and potential treatments present immense challenges for medical professionals in understaffed ERs and places patients in danger of a wide range of medical errors that could lead to severe injuries. As the birth injury and cerebral palsy attorneys in Baltimore, MD, we at Gershon, Willoughby, & Getz LLC, understand medical malpractice law and have a few examples of malpractice that occur in emergency rooms. Read on to learn more.

Errors Equal Negligence

Although understaffed ERs lead to exhausted staff and longer wait times, which can be fatal to many out of the gate, patients can also encounter a fair amount of mistakes in the emergency room that can cause further injuries, including:

Incorrect medication prescriptions or medication administration

With an ER overflowing with patients, medical staff can sometimes mix up medications or prescribe the wrong ones to patients. When this happens, patients could unknowingly overdose or underdose, or the incorrect prescriptions could cause more damage. 

Negligent chart or record analysis

Too many patients and not enough doctors, nurses, and technicians can result in a perfect storm of negligent readings of charts, X-rays, records, and other data necessary to correctly diagnose and treat patients.

Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis

When patients come into the ER requiring immediate care, they might be met with extensive wait times that could lead to a delayed diagnosis. Additionally, doctors might move patients quickly through the ER and miss essential data from the paperwork, tests, or patient testimony that can cause a misdiagnosis.

Insufficient patient monitoring 

Understaffed and overpopulated emergency rooms can cause medical staff to entirely neglect patients or provide them with too little monitoring. If a patient relapses or exhibits new symptoms, immediate action should be taken. However, if the medical professionals are attending other patients for too long and miss the new problems, their negligence could be the reason for an injury or fatality in the ER.

Emergency room malpractice can and does occur throughout the U.S. at an alarming rate. If you have been a victim of such malpractices, call the cerebral palsy misdiagnosis lawyers in Baltimore, MD, at Gershon, Willoughby, & Getz LLC for a consultation now. 

Posted in Blog, Uncategorized.