Emergency Room Malpractice Attorney in Baltimore
A hospital emergency room (ER) is a stressful place to be. Physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals who work in ERs must make challenging and consequential decisions for critical patients routinely.
Because we rely on emergency room personnel to take swift and decisive action in response to medical emergencies, the legal system grants these workers a certain amount of leeway when malpractice claims arise. However, ER physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals are still ultimately responsible for their actions. If an ER patient sustains any harm due to improper or poor-quality care, attending physicians or other health care professionals may be held liable in a medical malpractice case.
If you suspect you were injured due to medical malpractice in a Baltimore emergency room, contact the attorneys of Cohen & Dwin, P.A. today. We can review your situation and discuss your options for pursuing fair compensation during your free initial consultation. We’re ready to help you move forward.
Types of Errors That Can Occur in an Emergency Room
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 130 million ER visits happen each year. During these visits, any of the following types of common emergency room mistakes may occur:
- Delayed diagnosis and treatment – If providers assess a patient’s symptoms as less severe than they really are or believe they indicate another medical condition, a patient may not receive the critical treatment they need in time, which can lead to further complications or even death.
- Misdiagnosis – Diagnostic errors are some of the most common medical mistakes. A misdiagnosis can prevent patients from getting the care they need and may lead to unnecessary, potentially harmful treatments. In the ER, misdiagnosis often results from the treating physician failing to run proper tests.
- Medication errors – A medication error can involve prescribing the wrong medication or dosage or administering the medication incorrectly. Giving a patient an incorrect drug or dosage can have serious health consequences.
- Surgical errors – Possible surgical errors include anesthesia errors, failure to prevent infections, operating on incorrect body parts or patients, and leaving surgical instruments in the body after an operation.
- Improper communication or follow–up – When the health care providers in the ER fail to adequately communicate treatment instructions at discharge or when handing off the patient’s case to other providers in the ER or another department, the patient’s health could be compromised.
How Common Is Emergency Room Medical Malpractice?
It’s difficult to say precisely how common emergency room errors may be. One study from the Annals of Emergency Medicine suggests ER physicians account for more than half (52 percent) of all reported medical misdiagnoses, roughly double the rate of misdiagnoses in the next highest areas of medical specialty.
According to data from the study, the leading causes of breakdowns in the diagnostic process include:
- Failure to order appropriate diagnostic tests (58 percent)
- Inadequate physical examination or medical history review (42 percent)
- Improper interpretation of diagnostic tests (37 percent)
- Failure to request necessary consultations (33 percent)
Additionally, the most common contributing factors in the breakdown of the diagnostic process include:
- Cognitive factors (96 percent), such as mistakes in judgment (87 percent), limited technical competence or knowledge (58 percent), and lapses in memory or vigilance (41 percent)
- Patient-related factors (34 percent)
- Lack of adequate supervision (30 percent)
- Improper handoff procedures (24 percent)
- Excessive workloads (23 percent)
What Do You Have to Prove in an Emergency Room Malpractice Claim?
Just because you suffered from serious injuries, illnesses, or side effects during a visit to the emergency room does not necessarily mean you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. To file a successful claim, you must be able to demonstrate the three following factors:
- A doctor-patient relationship was in place. This factor is usually the easiest to establish. If an ER physician examined or treated you in the emergency room, it generally means they established a formal doctor-patient relationship with you. In most cases, your ER admittance records or treatment charts can serve as evidence of this relationship.
- The ER treatment you received fell short of acceptable standards. Medical professionals are required to uphold specific standards of care when they treat patients. If an emergency room doctor fails to provide the same level and quality of care that another competent physician would provide in a similar situation, their breach of the appropriate standard of care may be evidence of medical negligence.
- You suffered harm as a result of that negligence. You must be able to prove that the ER provider’s negligence directly harmed you. That could include the financial costs of additional medical treatment and lost earning capacity, as well as the personal costs of your pain, suffering, and losses in quality of life.
Compensation for Losses After an Emergency Room Error
With a successful Baltimore emergency room negligence claim, you could be entitled to compensation for the following types of losses:
- The costs of any past or future medical expenses necessary to treat injuries or conditions caused by an ER provider’s error.
- The value of any income losses or losses in your long-term earning ability if you miss time at work or other professional opportunities due to ER malpractice injuries.
- The value of your “non-economic” losses, such as the subjective costs of any pain, suffering, or losses in quality of life you experience due to the malpractice.
- The value of any incidental expenses you incur due to malpractice errors or injuries, such as travel costs to and from medical appointments.
Under § 3-2A-09 of the Maryland Judicial Code, the maximum amount of compensation available for non-economic losses from medical malpractice was $845,000 for injuries that occurred in 2021. This cap increases by an additional $15,000 each year.
The Time Limit for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Baltimore
Maryland law imposes strict time limits on your ability to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Generally speaking, you must file your lawsuit within five years of the date when your malpractice-related injury occurred or within three years of the date when you knew or could reasonably be expected to know you had grounds to sue, whichever comes sooner.
How an Emergency Room Malpractice Attorney Can Help You
When you’re considering an emergency room malpractice claim, a knowledgeable Baltimore attorney can support you by:
- Helping you understand your rights and offering professional legal advice
- Thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding your malpractice injuries
- Uncovering valuable evidence and estimating a fair value for your claim
- Working with medical experts who can help determine whether malpractice occurred
- Communicating with healthcare providers, insurers, and attorneys on your behalf
- Negotiating forcefully for the compensation you deserve during settlement talks
- Taking your case to trial if necessary
Contact Our Experienced Baltimore Emergency Room Malpractice Lawyers Today
If you suspect you may be entitled to compensation in an emergency room medical malpractice claim, the Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at Cohen & Dwin, P.A. wants to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss the details of your situation with a compassionate attorney.