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b2ap3_thumbnail_emergency-room-mistakes-malpractice.jpgShockingly, studies show that medical errors are now considered the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 440,000 people in the U.S. lose their lives every year because of medical mistakes. One place where medical errors often occur is the emergency room. If you have ever had to visit an emergency room, you probably already know that they can be chaotic environments. People go to an emergency room for a variety of ailments, some life-threatening and some not. If you or a loved one suffered because of a mistake an ER doctor or technician made, you may have grounds for a successful personal injury claim.

Mistakes Made in the Emergency Room Can Be Deadly

Emergency room errors are appallingly common. In fact, some sources report that about 5-10% of all ER visits involve mistakes. Because there are approximately 100 million ER visits in the United States each year, this means 5-10 million emergency room errors are committed every year. Of course, not every mistake is life-threatening or even harmful, but many of these mistakes have the ability to kill a patient. Emergency room doctors and nurses cannot always immediately know what is wrong with a patient or how to treat him or her. However, when emergency room mistakes are egregious or caused by medical negligence, the mistake may become an issue of medical malpractice.

Most Common Errors Made in the ER

When it comes to emergency medicine, even the smallest mistake can cause significant damage. The most common types of medical mistakes that occur in American emergency rooms include:

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Winnebago County medical malpractice lawyersWhen most of us visit a doctor or other medical professional to address a health concern, we trust that he or she knows what they are doing and will be able to help. Understandably, doctors do not always immediately know what aliment is causing their patient to suffer. However, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals have a duty to treat patients to the best of their ability. When a negligent medical professional misdiagnoses a patient and the resultant medical treatment (or lack of treatment) causes the patient harm, a medical malpractice suit may be appropriate.

Diagnostic Errors Are One of the Most Common Causes for Medical Malpractice Claims

The law does not expect doctors to be perfect. Many times, a patient suffers from a complex array of conditions which may be challenging to identify and treat. Doctors and other medical professionals are not held legally responsible for every diagnostic error they make. However, when carelessness or negligence causes a patient harm, doctors should be held accountable. A successful medical malpractice suit includes the following elements:

  • An established doctor-patient relationship;
  • The doctor or other health care worker was negligent; and
  • The negligent party’s actions caused actual injury to the patient.

Understanding When a Doctor is Negligent

Negligence can be tricky to understand in the context of a medical malpractice suit. A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis itself may be a mistake on the part of the health worker, but not necessarily evidence of negligence. Generally, a medical professional is negligent when he or she not provide treatment in a reasonably skilled and competent way. When deciding if a medical professional was negligent or not, courts may invite other similarly trained or experienced professionals to weigh in on the matters. If most medical professionals of similar expertise would have made a different decision than the medical professional accused of malpractice made, it is likely he or she will be considered negligent.

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Winnebago County medical malpractice attorneysAnyone who has spent time in a hospital can tell you the relief they felt when they were discharged and allowed to go home. Even those staying in a hospital for a short time can start to feel homesickness and grow intolerable of the bustle and noise of a busy hospital. Although they can be uncomfortable, hospital stays are often a requirement for patients requiring round-the-clock care for more serious illnesses and injuries.

To most patients, the news that they get to leave the confines of a hospital bed and return home is met with happiness. After all, if they are allowed to go home, their condition must have improved dramatically. Patients assume that the doctors and nurses on staff at the hospital would never discharge someone who was not well enough to go home. The tragic reality is that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals do make mistakes and sometimes patients who are not ready to leave the hospital are discharged anyway.

Questionable Early Hospital Discharges Put Lives in Danger

Even hospitals which are not-for-profit must rely on income generated through medical services. Hospitals must constantly find ways to save on costs. Many experts believe that cost-cutting efforts and other factors have caused an increase in patients being discharged from the hospital too soon. Sometimes, patients who are simply staying in the hospital to be observed are discharged quickly in order to create space for patients who need more intensive care or many diagnostic tests. Early hospital discharge can lead to worsened medical conditions and unnecessary pain and suffering. Early discharges that result in injuries to the patient can often open the door to medical malpractice claims.

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