Emergency rooms across the nation have exceedingly long wait times for patients in urgent need of medical attention. According to the Center for Quality Measurement and Reporting of the Maryland Health Care Commission, the average wait time for an emergency room patient to be admitted is about four and a half hours. In Maryland, the average wait was nearly two hours longer.
While not every extended wait time is considered negligence or medical malpractice, cases in which the patient has not been adequately stabilized or further complications arose as a result of the delay may be open to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
In this latest blog post, we at Gershon, Willoughby & Getz, a firm with some of the nation’s leading birth defects attorneys and medical malpractice lawyers, explain how medical malpractice is determined in cases involving considerable emergency room delays and what you should do if you believe your case qualifies.
How is Malpractice Determined?
There are two essential criteria to determine whether a delay of treatment is considered medical malpractice:
- Was there negligence from the healthcare provider?
- Did harm result from that negligence?
In cases surrounding delayed emergency room treatment, the court must examine how long the patient was forced to wait and if that is an unreasonable delay when compared to the appropriate standard of medical care for the patient’s condition. They then must evaluate what, if any, harm resulted.
Proving Medical Negligence
To prove medical negligence, the court must establish the appropriate standard of care in the patient’s case and then determine if the hospital met that standard. In cases of delayed treatment, the standard of care may have required the hospital to accept the patient without delay, or at the minimum, stabilize the patient sufficiently to prevent further complications.
Malpractice may also apply to patients whose doctors did not correctly identify potential consequences of delayed treatment and hospitals whose emergency rooms were not sufficiently staffed.
Proving the standard of care and whether or not the hospital met that standard will require testimony from medical experts, which your lawyers will help to arrange. Even if the standard of care was not met, the patient must still demonstrate that harm was caused as a result of the hospital’s negligence.
Demonstrating Harm that Resulted
The harm caused by a delay in treatment can come in a variety of forms including pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, and more. If medical complications occur from the prolonged emergency room wait such as blood clots, severe infection, or even death, a strong claim can be made for medical malpractice.
When to Seek Legal Assistance
The vast majority of extended emergency room waits are not considered negligent or medical malpractice. Missed events and opportunities resulting from delayed treatment are typically not open to legal recourse. To win a medical malpractice suit due to a delay in treatment, you must prove both negligence and harm that resulted.
While the law firm of Gershon, Willoughby, & Getz, LLC has leading birth injury attorneys, we also provide expert legal representation for medical malpractice clients as well.
If you or a loved one has suffered medical complications or another form of harm as a result of a negligent delay in care at an emergency room, the law firm of Gershon, Willoughby & Getz, LLC may be able to help. Contact us today by calling 1-877-292-6491.