When emergency medical care is needed, patients rely on the skill and attention of the emergency department of the hospital. Medical problems can be made worse if medical malpractice occurs. Though first responders, such as paramedics, ambulance crews, EMTs, and firefighters, are generally exempt from medical malpractice liability, the emergency room staff is not similarly protected. In fact, emergency room staff operates under the same protection as the other medical staff in the hospital.
What Is Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is medical negligence. Negligence indicates the knowing disregard of standard medical responses to illness or injury that directly results in harm to the patient. The patient must have proof that the doctor or nurse did not take a competent approach to the medical problem. In other words, if another doctor or nurse would not have chosen to respond in the same way, then malpractice may have occurred.
Emergency rooms often do not have cases that require such straightforward treatment. Injuries and symptoms can be at such a severe level that time is a key factor in preserving the patient’s life. Emergency situations also often do not leave time to provide informed consent or the patient may be incapacitated and unable to give consent for treatment. Doctors and other emergency room staff are obligated to assume consent and provide treatment to stabilize the condition if possible. Such a fast-paced environment inevitably lowers the standards for the allowance of medical mistakes. Thus, the severity of the mistake would determine whether negligence was involved. Possible circumstances that may indicate medical malpractice in the emergency room include:
- The refusal to give treatment
- Sending the patient in a life-threatening condition to another hospital
- Administering the wrong medication or dosage
- Performing an unnecessary or incorrect procedure
- Misdiagnosing a condition or mistreating the diagnosis
Obligation to Help
The public is not obligated to help someone in need of medical care. This does not apply to emergency room staff. ERs are not allowed to turn anyone away that requires life-saving medical intervention. Most hospitals operate under the federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). EMTALA requires that emergency rooms treat anyone regardless of insurance or ability to pay. Refusal of medical treatment could result in liability problems for the hospital similar to medical malpractice.
What If It Is Medical Malpractice?
If an emergency room visit results in harm or injury caused by the possible negligence of the medical staff at the emergency room, then the professional advice from an experienced law firm is necessary. Medical malpractice cases can be complex and oftentimes require testimonies from other medical experts in the field. Depending on the hospital and staff involved, the doctor, nurse, or even the hospital may be responsible. The Florida personal injury attorneys at The Fernandez Firm can explain the patient’s rights and determine if medical malpractice made an emergency situation worse. Call the Fernandez Firm for competent legal representation from attorneys who are knowledgeable in medical malpractice. You can also fill out our contact form and we will get back with you as soon as possible.