Can Emergency Rooms Be Held Liable For Malpractice?

It is possible to sue a Kansas emergency room for medical malpractice if it breached a duty of care to a patient in a way that resulted in patient injury, illness, or death. The nature of emergency rooms (ERs) lends a higher risk of mistakes, oversights, and medical malpractice compared to other hospital and healthcare settings.

Bustling Kansas City ERs can see hundreds of patients per day – many with acute traumatic injuries. The chaotic nature of the ER environment, however, does not give the facility permission to provide lax or subpar patient care so speak with an experienced Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer if you were injured. There are high industry standards that emergency rooms and their staff members must fulfill. Failure to do so resulting in a preventable patient injury or wrongful death is medical malpractice.

Common Reasons for Malpractice Suits Against ERs in Kansas City

ERs are not exempt from personal injury or wrongful death law, despite being inherently more volatile settings than ordinary hospital rooms. Patients can and have sued emergency rooms in Kansas City on the grounds of medical malpractice. Like most other medical malpractice lawsuits, injured patients must prove the ER’s (or one of its staff member’s) negligence to receive compensation for injuries. ER malpractice can take many shapes and forms, but some are more common than others. Common reasons for ER lawsuits include:

  • Understaffed emergency rooms
  • Unsanitary premises or practices
  • Failing to properly screen patients to determine level of emergency
  • Turning patients away because of lack of insurance/ability to pay
  • Denying a patient care on the basis of race, disability, religion, or medical history
  • Failing to order the appropriate medical tests
  • Misinterpreting test results
  • Misdiagnoses or failure to diagnose
  • Prescription and medication errors
  • Surgical errors

Almost any set of circumstances resulting in patient harm or injury could result in a medical malpractice lawsuit, as long as the plaintiff can prove the ER’s fault. All malpractice claims in Kansas City hinge upon the injured plaintiff’s ability to prove the defendant’s negligence. Proving fault requires showing that a doctor-patient relationship existed, that the doctor or ER owed you a duty of care and breached this duty, and that the breach caused your injuries. “Duty of care” and standards of patient care, however, can be confusing in cases involving emergency rooms.

What Is an ER’s Standard of Care to Patients?

Emergency rooms are not the same as other hospital settings. In a court of law, a judge and jury will take the unique nature of ERs into account when determining the defendant’s negligence. Despite a chaotic atmosphere, ERs still owe strict standards of care to patients. These include offering medical care to anyone in need, regardless of ability to pay. It also includes gauging the seriousness of the injury using an emergency severity index (ESI) or triage system. Failing to judge the emergency correctly, resulting in undue harm or patient death, could be medical malpractice.

In these types of cases, courts will assess whether another medical professional in the same hectic ER environment would have acted the same way as the defendant. It might be reasonable for the defendant to have acted a certain way under the circumstances, even if it is unacceptable for a doctor in another hospital setting. Expert testimony is usually a requirement in determining what is “reasonable patient care” according to the atmosphere of the ER on the day of the alleged harm.

A medical malpractice attorney can be of significant help in these tricky claims in Kansas City. A lawyer can hire experts to testify on behalf of the plaintiff to help prove a claim. A lawyer can also improve the injured patient’s chances of recovery for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages in Kansas City. Talk to a lawyer for more information.