When you visit a hospital emergency department, you often don’t have much choice. If you’ve been in a car accident and are being transported by ambulance, you believe you may be suffering a heart attack or stroke, or you’re facing some other serious or life-threatening medical event, the emergency room is usually the default destination.
If you’ve been in an emergency room lately, you know that it’s often crowded and wait times are long. Many factors contribute to those long waits, including high volume compared with the number of available facilities. South Carolina’s emergency rooms treat about two million people each year.
Many different types of medical errors happen in busy emergency rooms, but some are more common than others.
One of the most significant concerns in hospital emergency rooms is misdiagnosis. It’s been estimated that about 5.7% of emergency room patients are misdiagnosed. To put that in perspective, that means more than 100,000 of South Carolina’s roughly two million emergency department visitors each year are misdiagnosed.
Of course, not every patient who is misdiagnosed in the emergency room is harmed by that misdiagnosis. Some recover naturally despite the misdiagnosis. Some turn out to have something less serious than the original diagnosis. Some follow up with their own physicians or other medical professionals soon enough that they’re not hurt by the delay. However, about 40% of those who are misdiagnosed–that’s about 40,000/year in South Carolina–do suffer medical consequences from the misdiagnosis. And, for .3%--about 6,000 patients in South Carolina–the consequences are severe.
Attorney Frank Hartman helps victims of emergency room negligence recover fair compensation to pay their medical expenses, make up for lost work, compensate for pain and suffering and more. To learn more, call 843-300-7600 right now.
Some patients are more impacted by emergency room errors than others. For example, women and people of color are at greater risk of misdiagnosis. In addition, patients are more likely to be misdiagnosed if their condition is less common in their age group. For instance, younger people are at a dramatically increased risk of misdiagnosis of stroke. Certain symptoms can increase the likelihood of misdiagnosis, too. For example, stroke patients who report dizziness or vertigo are much more likely to be misdiagnosed.
Medical malpractice cases are complex, and emergency room negligence is no different. Whether you were misdiagnosed in an emergency room, harmed by being given the wrong medication, made sicker because you weren’t properly triaged and waited too long for care, or otherwise harmed, you’ll have to establish that the doctor and/or facility didn’t live up to the accepted standard of care for the circumstances.
That means working with an expert witness to get a statement of what the appropriate standard of care is and how the doctor or hospital breached it. Your medical malpractice attorney will also have to jump through some procedural hoops that don’t apply in other types of negligence cases. And, in some circumstances, the defendant may assert a special provision in South Carolina law that protects doctors and other medical providers who are acting in true emergency situations.
Under that law, medical providers providing care in “a genuine emergency situation involving an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to the patient receiving care in an emergency department or in an obstetrical or surgical suite” are not liable unless they are found to have been grossly negligent. But, this statute does not apply to everything that takes place in an emergency room.
As you can see, someone who suffered an injury or whose medical condition was aggravated as a result of poor treatment in a hospital emergency room has several hurdles to clear in pursuing fair compensation. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced Charleston medical malpractice attorney.
Attorney Frank Hartman has dedicated his career to fighting for injury victims in and around Charleston, South Carolina. He has the knowledge and experience to navigate the complexities of your medical malpractice claim. Just as important, he recognizes that you’re another human in a difficult situation, not just a case. He’ll fight for you.
To learn more, call us today at 843-300-7600. Or, if you prefer, fill out the contact form on this page and we’ll reach out to you.