Medical malpractice laws don’t just apply to doctors in California; they extend to all workers in health care. This means surgeons, nurses and pharmacists can get sued if their errors cause harm to patients. While emergency room personnel must follow basic standards, it can get tricky suing them.
Medical malpractice and ERs
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or health care employee falls below a basic care level, leading to patient injury. Emergency rooms are usually hectic, and staff members are pressed for time trying to treat the most critical patients, so mistakes may happen. The lack of patient medical records can cause patients to get the wrong diagnosis or wrong treatment.
Emergency rooms are usually given more leniency in cases of medical errors, and they don’t require informed consent. In an emergency medical situation, a patient may not have the ability to give consent or have anyone to represent them, so it is implied. First responders, such as ambulance personnel and EMTs, usually have immunity to protect the industry from frequent litigation.
When and against who patients can make a claim
Nurses and doctors in the ER are not given the same immunity as first responders, and first responders are not completely protected from medical malpractice claims. However, the patient must prove that the doctor or nurse had a duty of care, they breached the duty, and it caused avoidable harm. Medical malpractice usually requires testimony from a medical professional in the same field.
They must also have an established doctor-patient relationship, which ER admittance records can help prove existed. A patient may bring a case against an employer of a first responder if they caused harm by acting recklessly or intentionally. If an ER refuses to treat a patient, the hospital is commonly responsible under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor law.
The ER may have a higher standard for proving malpractice, but it doesn’t mean ER staff should be neglectful to patients. They are responsible for meeting the duty of care for every patient.