Medical Malpractice in the Emergency Room
While mistakes are no less prevalent in an ambulance or in the emergency room than in other sections of a hospital, “first responders” understandably have very strong legal protections. Thus paramedics, EMTs, and other first responders can only be sued for malpractice if they have done something horribly wrong. Doctors and nurses in the ER, however, are still open to medical malpractice lawsuits. As always, not all mistakes constitute negligence, but if one of these medical professionals was unreasonably incompetent, then they are liable for malpractice.
Strictly speaking, it is usually the hospital that will be liable in the case of a nurse committing malpractice. If the doctor has committed negligence, however, then it is possible that only he or she can be sued, as most doctors are independent contractors, not employees of the hospital. That being said, a hospital still might get sued if the patient was unaware that the doctor was an independent contractor, which is often the case in an emergency room.
What if a patient is turned away from the emergency room? As most hospitals get some funding from Medicare, they will be under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). This means that no one can be rejected for treatment at the ER, whether or not they have the ability to pay. Every patient who arrives at the emergency room must receive medical screening and be stabilized as much as is possible.
Even if it turns out that a patient was turned away who actually could afford treatment, that emergency room would still have violated EMTALA. Sending the patient to another ER without first treating him would also constitute a violation. A hospital can be sued for breaking any of these stipulations.
If you or a loved one have suffered from a defective medical device or negligent care at a hospital, then you may be entitled to damages that can cover the costs of your medical treatment, make up for lost wages, and compensate you for pain and suffering. Find out if you have a case when you contact the Whitley Law Firm. Our team of Raleigh personal injury lawyers has more than 38 years of experience, experience that has gone toward skillfully fighting for the rights of North Carolina residents.