The “golden hour” is the term used to describe the period of time immediately following a traumatic injury during which it is most likely that prompt medical treatment will help prevent death. The actual time frame can be more or less than 60 minutes, but the term is meant to remind us that the sooner professional treatment is received, the better.
It is crucial for medical professionals to act quickly when providing emergency room care, but that care must also be appropriate for the situation. Emergency room errors can be harmful and sometimes even fatal. If you were injured because of an emergency room error, you might be entitled to compensation.
How Common Are Emergency Room Errors?
According to the 2018 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, there are approximately 130 million visits to the emergency room annually in the United States. Here is a breakdown of how those visits are distributed and some additional data points:
- 35 million injury-related visits;
- 40.4 visits per 100 people;
- 16.2 million visits resulting in hospital admission, which accounts for 12.4% of visits;
- 2.3 million visits resulting in admission to the critical care unit; and
- 43.5% of patients seen in 15 minutes or less.
These numbers are consistent with previous national averages, which means that there are a lot of emergency room visits and a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.
Types of Emergency Room Errors
Many hospital emergency rooms are extremely busy, and doctors and other medical professionals are expected to make quick decisions. These circumstances do not change the fact that they are responsible for providing a certain level of care to all patients. If you believe you were injured because this standard was not met, you should contact emergency room error attorneys to understand your legal options. There are a number of ways that emergency room errors can occur, but there are a few types of errors that are more common than others.
Misdiagnosis is at the top of the list of common emergency room errors and can happen in a number of ways. A medical professional may misread diagnostic test results or misinterpret symptoms. This could result in the wrong treatment being administered or even no treatment at all.
Diagnostic tests are often vital to identifying the true cause of injury or illness. Improper emergency room triage can lead a care provider to not order certain tests, such as x-rays, bloodwork, or ultrasounds, in favor of less-appropriate tests. Or, a care provider might have ordered no tests when tests were needed or ordered the wrong types of tests.
Doctors rely on information from triage, diagnostics, and the patient’s chart to inform decisions regarding medication. If any of this information is wrong, the wrong medication might be prescribed. Or, a doctor might have failed to properly read test results or a patient’s chart and prescribed the wrong medication or dosage. For example, if a doctor administers a medication that the patient’s chart notes the patient is allergic to, that medication can severely harm or even kill the patient.
Many emergency rooms are consistently busy. People have been known to wait for hours upon hours to see a doctor, take a diagnostic test, or receive treatment. How long it takes for a patient to receive treatment often depends on the efficiency of the staff and prioritization of critical cases. In some circumstances, the patient may be incorrectly triaged, and it is assumed their condition is less serious than it actually is. Delayed treatment can be more than an inconvenience. In critical cases, the “golden hour” standard for prompt treatment could mean the difference between life and death.
Failure to follow up
Just like your primary care physician, emergency room doctors are responsible for follow-up treatment. This could mean checking for infection after a surgical procedure or making sure a serious cough has cleared up. Failing to check on a patient and understand whether treatment was effective could lead to complications.
Filing a Claim for Emergency Room Malpractice
In New Jersey, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or institution, such as a hospital or clinic, does not meet the standard of care, and this failure harms the patient. This failure is also known as a breach of the duty of care.
The medical “standard of care” reflects the generally accepted procedures and practices of all similarly-situated healthcare providers when treating a patient with particular symptoms. If a healthcare professional fails to act in a reasonable way when treating a patient, they and the healthcare institution could be liable for malpractice. An emergency room malpractice attorney is the best person to help you determine whether or not you were injured by medical malpractice and who might be responsible for your injury.
Important Considerations When Filing a Claim
Medical malpractice claims are often addressed by insurance companies that serve medical professionals. Many doctors have separate medical malpractice coverage that is meant for situations like or similar to yours.
There are several things to take into consideration when filing a medical malpractice claim. Emergency room malpractice lawyers can help you ensure you do not miss a step. First, it is important to understand who you should file a claim against. You might file a claim against the healthcare provider, the medical institution, diagnostic technicians, medical equipment manufacturers, or others, depending on the circumstances of your injury.
Understanding how much your claim is worth will help ensure that you do not ask for less than what you deserve. Your emergency room error attorneys can evaluate the facts of your case to determine how much compensation you might be eligible to receive.
Many victims do not know that they can negotiate with insurance companies. You do not have to accept the first settlement offer an insurance company makes. Your attorney can handle these negotiations for you so that you can focus on healing. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, you can choose to file a lawsuit, which your attorney can also help you with.
Emergency Room Error Attorneys You Can Trust
The team of emergency room malpractice attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble has a strong record of success in obtaining settlements and verdicts for medical negligence injuries in New Jersey, including the largest medical malpractice verdict of its kind. We have obtained hundreds of millions in settlements and verdicts for our medical malpractice clients. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing compassionate representation as we guide you through the legal process. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation so that we can learn more about what you have been through and form a unique strategy tailored to your needs.