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Emergency Room Errors

Experienced Emergency Room Negligence Lawyers in Atlanta and Savannah

Georgia medical malpractice attorneys advocating for the injured

Emergency Rooms can be hectic places. The medical professionals who work in them must exercise the same level of care that any doctor or nurse would, despite the added stresses of the environment. When you sustain an injury because of negligent Emergency Room care, you have the right to make a claim for damages.

At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, we have a team of medical malpractice attorneys in Atlanta and Savannah our clients can trust. We know how to protect your right to recover compensation when you have suffered an injury because of a preventable medical mistake. When you need aggressive, effective representation, HLM is here to help.

What is emergency room malpractice?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are about 141.4 million ER visits each year in the U.S. Of those visits, 40 million are injury-related, about 11.2 million visits results in hospital admission, and 1.8 million result in admission to a critical care unit.

The specialty of emergency medicine provides training and practice in how to assess patients’ immediate medical needs (triage), stabilize them, and either admit them to the hospital for further care, or send them home with further instructions. ER physicians are beholden to the accepted standard of care for their patients regardless of the level of chaos in the department. When a patient suffers an injury because of medical negligence, they may have grounds to take legal action. There are elements that their case must meet before they can pursue a medical malpractice claim including:

  • The existence of a doctor-patient (or nurse-patient) relationship (this establishes duty)
  • The doctor or other medical professional’s action or failure to act was a breach of the accepted standard of care
  • Your injury was a direct result of the breach
  • You have suffered damages because of the injury.

In a medical malpractice claim, a medical expert will examine the physician’s actions, compare them to the accepted standard, in other words, what any other reasonable emergency room physician would doo given the same circumstances, and determine where the negligence occurred.

Emergency Room mistakes and vicarious liability

The Emergency Room can be a chaotic place. Often, ER errors are unintentional, and they occur for various reasons including:

  • Communication errors, miscommunication
  • Inadequate staffing
  • Inexperienced staff
  • Overcrowding
  • High stress environment
  • Failure to obtain or consult patient’s medical history
  • Inadequate training
  • Unsanitary conditions

However, just because a mistake is unintentional, does not mean that negligence did not occur. No surgeon, for example, ever plans to leave a surgical tool inside of a body – but it happens around 1,500 times per year in the U.S.

Lack of intent, therefore, does not mean lack of liability. If an ER doctor, nurse or staff member behaves in a negligent manner – regardless of the circumstances – and you are hurt as a result, you may make a claim for damages against the hospital. This is, in part, because of vicarious liability: the understanding that hospitals are responsible for the care of their patients, but also for the upkeep and maintenance of their facilities. If an ER is understaffed, overcrowded, and filthy, and a patient sustains an injury/develops an illness because of any (or all) of those factors, the hospital can be held liable if the injury victim can prove that involved parties were acting within the scope of their jobs when the negligent act occurred.

To put it more simply, if a person develops an infection because the surgical tools were not properly sanitized – either because the sanitizing machine malfunctioned, or because someone failed to properly sanitize those instruments – then the hospital, which is responsible for ensuring that patients are treated under sanitary conditions, is liable for any damages the patient sustains.

What are some common types of Emergency Room errors?

Given the nature of Emergency Rooms – lots of people running around, multiple patients waiting for help, paramedics racing in and out – there is a high risk of mistakes being made. Some of the more common ER errors include:

  • Medication errors (wrong dose, wrong medication)
  • Treatment delays
  • Failure to properly evaluate patient’s condition
  • Patient dumping (refusing to treat a patient because of lack of insurance)
  • Failure to refer patient to a specialist
  • Failure to obtain informed consent before beginning treatment
  • Diagnostic errors
  • Releasing the patient without discharge instructions
  • Ignoring health-care directives

ERs have special rules when it comes to make a claim

Though most medical malpractice claims must be made within two (2) years from the day you were injured, or could have reasonably known you were injured (exceptions do apply), Emergency Room claims are different. Under Georgia Code § 51-1-29.5:

(c) In an action involving a health care liability claim arising out of the provision of emergency medical care in a hospital emergency department or obstetrical unit or in a surgical suite immediately following the evaluation or treatment of a patient in a hospital emergency department, no physician or health care provider shall be held liable unless it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the physician or health care provider’s actions showed gross negligence.

(d) In an action involving a health liability claim arising out of the provision of emergency medical care in a hospital emergency department or obstetrical unit or in a surgical suite immediately following the evaluation or treatment of a patient in a hospital emergency department, the court shall instruct the jury to consider, together with all other relevant matters:

(1) Whether the person providing care did or did not have the patient’s medical history or was able or unable to obtain a full medical history, including the knowledge of preexisting medical conditions, allergies, and medications;

(2) The presence or lack of a preexisting physician-patient relationship or health care provider-patient relationship;

(3) The circumstances constituting the emergency; and

(4) The circumstances surrounding the delivery of the emergency medical care.

How our medical malpractice attorneys can help you

If you were the recipient of sub-standard care and you suffered an injury because of it, our experienced medical malpractice lawyers are here to help you. We can engage the services of the top medical expert witnesses to investigate your claim and identify where medical staff was negligent in your case. We can prepare a case to recover compensation for your losses including medical expenses, lost wages, the loss of enjoyment of life because of your injury, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

Because we take medical negligence cases on contingency, you never have to worry about how you will be able to afford excellent legal representation. You never pay a penny in legal fees until we recover compensation for you. Even the consultation to discuss your case and learn your legal options is free. Give us a call right away as there are time limits for filing a claim for damages from medical negligence. We are here to obtain justice for you.

Schedule a consultation with a compassionate Georgia ER malpractice attorney today

Get help for yourself when you have suffered an injury because of Emergency Room errors. If a medical professional caused your injury, Harris Lowry Manton LLP’s Atlanta and Savannah medical malpractice attorneys have the experience and tenacity to help. For strong advocacy, please phone our Atlanta office at 404-961-7650 or our Savannah office at 912-651-9967. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule a free initial appointment.


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