Emergency Room Malpractice

Our Practice > Medical Malpractice > Hospital Negligence

Doctors, nurses, and even patient’s may take pride in the standard of care in our hospitals, but the failure to exercise a degree of reasonable care in emergency rooms happens more often than you might think.

Tennessee Emergency Room Malpractice

In Nashville, Tennessee, the attorneys of David Randolph Smith & Associates understand that rapid and specific treatment is essential for a patient in a hospital emergency room. However, inaction or inappropriate action ruins thousands of lives every year, and in some cases, results in death. If you or your loved one has concerns about emergency room treatment, our staff of experienced professionals wants to hear from you.

In 2010, for example, Vanderbilt University Medical Center had 102,631 visits.

The high volume of patients, often in critical condition, and chronic staff shortages often plague hospital emergency rooms, creating an environment that is ripe for errors. A Harvard University study (published in the New England Journal of Medicine) of more than 30,000 randomly selected hospital records found that hospital emergency departments have the highest proportion of adverse events due to negligence than any other area of the hospital. Most common were diagnostic errors or mishaps in treatment, largely due to part-time, inexperienced physicians and staff.

Rapid and specific treatment is essential for a patient in a hospital emergency room. Depending on the condition, an emergency room physician may be required to refer the patient immediately to a specialist. In the emergency room, time is of the essence. Some conditions that result in long term pain, disability or death could have been prevented by prompt and competent action by the ER staff and doctors.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Harvard Medical Institute, the amount of time spent in the emergency room has grown by an astonishing rate. On average, half of all emergency room patient’s waited 30 minutes or more to be examined by a doctor, a significant increase from a wait time of 22 minutes. Even more shocking, the wait time for serious emergencies has also increased. In 1997, the average wait time for a patient suffering from a heart attack was eight minutes; in 2006 the average time was at 22 minutes, and patient’s with other serious maladies were forced to wait around 15 minutes.

In addition to negligent wait times, ER patient’s can experience other mistakes and healthcare errors when visiting an emergency room. The most common type of emergency room errors are the following:

  • Failure to fully evaluate or treat a patient’s condition
  • Late or wrong diagnosis
  • Faulty laboratory tests
  • Contaminated blood transfusions
  • Prescribing wrong medication
  • Failure to monitor a patient, especially confused patients

If you received the wrong diagnosis or were injured due to the negligence of emergency room doctors, nurses or staff in Nashville, Tennessee or elsewhere, please contact David Randolph Smith & Associates. Our goal is to provide exceptional legal services to our clients. We strive to achieve the highest standard of excellence for the protection of individual rights through team work and the use of our considerable resources and experience.

Examples of Emergency Room Errors

Emergency room errors and emergency room misdiagnosis are abundant. Anything done at the frantic pace of the emergency room is bound to have a higher error level then normal. This however does not mean that all emergency room mistakes are acceptable. Just the contrary; many emergency room mistakes are completely preventable and can be described as medical malpractice due to an emergency room nurse or doctors negligence.

A misdiagnosis can occur at any stage in the emergency room visit. It could result from an incorrect initial assessment, leading to a delay in diagnosis or treatment; a failure to recognize the condition bringing the patient to the emergency room; a failure to obtain appropriate diagnostic tests; a failure to obtain a consultation from an appropriate specialist or a failure to refer the patient to an appropriate specialist; or prescribing an incorrect medication.

Common diseases that are frequently misdiagnosed in the emergency room are:

  • Acute Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
  • Breast Cancer
  • Tuberculosis
  • Lung Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Strokes
  • Pulmonary Embolism
  • Bacterial Meningitis
  • Appendicitis

Many of these conditions are life threatening if the physician or other health care provider fails to consider them in making a diagnosis.

Errors in hospital Emergency Rooms are a common occurrence infrequently talked about and rarely reported to the media. That is why you don’t hear about these types of cases on the news. Understaffed hospitals or ill-equipped emergency rooms may lead to fatal errors while dealing with patients requiring emergency treatment. When the necessary steps of treating an emergency room patient are sidestepped, then an emergency error may result.

According to repots from the Institute of Medicine , from 1993 to 2003, the U.S. population grew by 12 percent but emergency room visits grew by 27 percent, from 90 million to 114 million. In that same period, however, 425 emergency departments closed, along with about 700 hospitals and nearly 200,000 beds.

Over 225,000 people die from medical malpractice related injuries in a single year. Nearly half of these are from emergency room errors.

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    The Nashville personal injury and medical malpractice law firm of David Randolph Smith & Associates serves clients throughout Tennessee in communities such as Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Jackson, Johnson City, Franklin, Hendersonville, Bartlett, Cleveland, Columbia, Cookeville, Gallatin, Lebanon, Brentwood, Springfield, Dickson, Davidson County, Shelby County, Knox County, Hamilton County, Rutherford County, Williamson County, Robertson County, Cheatham County, Maury County and Montgomery County. We also serve clients in Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi and Illinois. AL, KY, IN, MS, IL.

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