Patients go to the emergency room when they’re suffering serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses and injuries, including strokes, broken bones, appendicitis, and other conditions. These patients expect timely, quality care.
In some cases, however, the outcomes are not what patients want. Delayed care, misdiagnosis, and other problems can occur in the ER.
In fact, across the country, about 7 million misdiagnoses occur in ERs every year, which means about 1 in 18 patients who seek medical help in an emergency department are misdiagnosed.
The most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses include strokes, heart attacks, aneurysms, spinal cord injuries, and vein thromboembolism. In addition to misdiagnosis, there are other types of harm that can occur in ERs. Patients may be exposed to illnesses, may have wrong-site surgery, may be given the wrong medication, or may suffer harm for another reason.
There are many reasons why these types of injuries happen in emergency rooms. ERs are busy and chaotic. Patients who come in may not be able to communicate, making diagnosis harder. In some cases, doctors are negligent and misdiagnose a patient or even cause additional harm.
How Can I Reduce My Risk?
If you need to go to the emergency room, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of poor medical outcomes:
Choose the appropriate level of care, whether that’s a walk-in clinic, urgent care center, or ER, for your medical concern
Go with a friend or family member, if possible, who can advocate for you and take notes when you’re unable to
Don’t be afraid to speak up—ask questions and ask for a second opinion if you’re not satisfied
Seek additional care if your issue isn’t resolved
Get follow-up care from your primary care physician after visiting the ER
Do I Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Ultimately, even if you take care to reduce your risk, it is the hospital who has an obligation to provide you with a reasonable standard of care. When they fail to do so, you may have a claim.
Unfortunately, it is not always clear whether an honest mistake has been made or whether negligence played a role in your injuries. If you’ve suffered harm after an ER visit, you must be able to prove that the doctor and staff behaved in an unreasonable way to have a claim. Usually, this is done by having a medical expert testify that another doctor in the same situation would have acted differently.
It can be difficult to tell whether you have a legal claim. If you have lost work, suffered complications, or faced additional harm because of an emergency room visit, one way you can determine liability is by speaking with a medical malpractice attorney. An attorney can investigate what happened, can work with medical experts, and can find all liable parties. Your attorney can also represent you if you decide to pursue compensation.
If you have suffered harm after a visit to the ER, call Flaxman Law Group at 866-352-9626 to speak to a live person 24/7. We can schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential case. You can also contact us online to schedule your free consultation.