Emergency room negligence can occur in two different forms: failure to provide emergency care to a patient; second, failure to adhere to, to recognized standards of medical care. Florida law allows a patient who is injured by an emergency room’s negligent actions to recover for injuries. Negligent actions may include: (1) the failure to provide emergency care; (2) discharging or transferring a patient before it is medically safe; or (3) providing substandard emergency care.
If you were injured as a result of emergency room negligence, you should speak to a personal injury and medical malpractice attorney. Experienced attorneys, such as those at Staples, Ellis + Associates, can evaluate your visit and determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. With over 70 years of combined legal experience, Staples, Ellis + Associates has earned its reputation for providing excellent legal representation to those injured in the Pensacola area.
Negligence in Emergency Room Treatment
Visiting an emergency room usually means a patient needs immediate medical care. In such cases, hospitals are required to evaluate a patient and if necessary, provide essential treatment.
Under state and federal law, a hospital emergency room is required to provide emergency evaluation and treatment regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. This means that when a patient requests emergency services, the hospital must provide medical screening, examination, and evaluation by a doctor or other qualified person to see if an emergency medical condition exists.
An emergency medical condition is a situation that places a patient in serious jeopardy, impairs bodily functions, or causes dysfunction to a bodily organ or part. An emergency medical condition also applies to the unborn child of a pregnant patient.
If an emergency room doctor identifies an emergency medical condition exists, the hospital must then treat the condition by arranging for care, surgery, or other treatment or arrange for transfer to another medical facility for treatment. However, an emergency room cannot transfer a patient to another facility until the patient is stable enough to survive transfer.
Failure to Identify an Emergency Medical Condition
Emergency room employees are trained to evaluate a patient’s situation to determine whether the patient is in critical condition. The ideal process and steps an emergency room follows to determine whether a patient is critical are referred to as the “standard of care.” Emergency room staff members are held to the same standard of care other doctors and nurses would provide under similar circumstances. However, mistakes happen and even good doctors sometimes miss signs of dangerous medical situations. When an injury results from an emergency room’s failure to follow the appropriate standards in evaluating a patient, the patient may recover damages from emergency room staff responsible for that injury.
Types of Emergency Room Failures
Patients visit emergency rooms for many different medical conditions. Part of an emergency room provider’s duty is to identify the medical condition by evaluating possible causes and recommend the appropriate treatment. Examples of a failure to identify a medical condition include:
- Not recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke or heart attack,
- Failing to run appropriate or necessary tests or exams,
- Misinterpreting test results,
- Failing to obtain a full medical history,
- Failing to prioritize patients, or
- Discharging a patient too soon.
These are just a few examples of the many things that can go wrong in a trip to the emergency room. The key is that the emergency room medical staff failed to take some action in providing care that resulted in serious harm to a patient. If you experienced a situation where a doctor or nurse downplayed the seriousness of your condition, resulting in a lack of care or treatment, and your condition worsened as a result, you may be able to pursue damages.
Emergency Room “Dumping”
Lawmakers put emergency room protections into effect to prevent emergency rooms from “dumping,” or transferring patients who were unable to pay for immediate care to other hospitals. The anti-dumping laws require that a patient must be medically stable before an emergency room can transfer that patient to another hospital.
The statute applies in a situation in which a patient who cannot afford to pay for medical care and has no insurance goes to an emergency room. The law requires the emergency room to treat the patient regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. The emergency room cannot discharge the patient or transfer the patient until it is medically safe to do so. If a patient is harmed by an emergency room’s discharge or transfer before it is safe to discharge or transfer, the emergency room is liable for the patient’s injuries.
If the medical staff at an emergency room fails to live up to the appropriate standard of care for treating your medical condition or discharges or transfers you before you are stable, you can pursue damages for any injury that results. Florida statute allows any person who suffers harm as a result of the failure to identify or treat a medical condition to pursue a civil action against the responsible hospital administrative or medical staff or personnel for damages, attorneys’ fees, and other relief. This means you can recover for injuries that result from negligence, such as worsened medical condition, medical bills, loss of income, and other compensatory damages.
In addition to recovering for improper emergency room treatment, Florida courts also allow patients injured as a result of a physician’s malpractice to recover for damages. Medical malpractice is a health care provider’s failure to provide a professional standard of care that causes injury to a patient.
Emergency room care can also result in medical malpractice if a doctor deviates from the appropriate standard of care and pursues a treatment that results in injury, misdiagnoses a condition, or wrongfully prescribes medications. Injuries that result from medical malpractice include wrongful death, brain damage, misdiagnosis of infections, medication errors, and surgical or anesthesia negligence.
If Your Condition Worsened Due to Emergency Room Negligence, Contact Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A.
An emergency room is a chaotic place and accidents happen. But emergency rooms are also places you turn to in a time of need. You should be able to trust the medical staff to provide you with proper care. Our personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys are experienced in helping patients recover for injuries resulting from emergency room care. Contact Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. to get the experience of a trial-tested attorney on your side.
The Emergency Room Negligence Attorneys at Staples, Ellis & Associates serves clients in Pensacola County, Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Okaloosa County, Walton County, and throughout Northwest Florida.