Medical malpractice cases that involve emergency situations are very different from regular malpractice suits. There are special laws in relation to these cases. Most states have laws that protect first responders from being sued in the event of a death or permanent injury.
Doctors and nurses that operate in the emergency room of a hospital may not have the same protections. However, there are still laws in place to ensure that they perform their duties without being careless or negligent.
Emergency Medical Malpractice Liability
If someone is injured as a result of the treatment they receive in an emergency situation, liability falls on the person who caused this injury. The case will differ depending on who helped the patient first which may vary between doctors, nurses, first responders, or independent citizens.
First responders are given the ultimate protection by most states. There are written laws in place that ensure first responders are almost never the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Ambulance crews, fire fighters, medical technicians and other first responders usually fall into this category..
The reason for this practice is because emergency situations are intense, high risk and often involve split second decisions. Unless a first responder does something incredibly careless or negligent, they are most likely not liable.
Even if a malpractice case is filed against a first responder, it is usually their employers who are deemed liable. This ensures that the individual who was out there in the field is not deemed financially responsible. These laws exist to protect first responders. If the laws were not in place, first responders would be severely limited in the type of treatment they could provide during emergency situations..
Emergency Room Doctors and Nurses
If a doctor or nurse is working in the emergency room, they are bound by the same laws as other personnel in the hospital. The standard for a malpractice case says that the victim must prove that a doctor of sufficient qualifications would not have made the same mistake. For example, if a doctor causes permanent injury with her actions, the victim must prove that this injury could have been prevented by a competent doctor in the same situation.
Malpractice lawsuits can be very stressful and complicated. Hospitals will typically seek to protect their doctors within reason. Unless the doctor was intoxicated, severely sleep deprived or purposefully negligent, the hospital is charged to defend them in malpractice suits. They are permitted to provide witnesses and other employees in order to demonstrate that the injuries/death suffered by the patient would have happened under the supervision of any qualified doctor.
Similarly, the party suing must have evidence and experts to support their claim. They must prove that a competent doctor with such qualifications should not have committed the errors that lead to injury or death.
Cases Against Hospitals
If a doctor is negligent in the emergency room, the hospital may also be sued by the victim. Most cases involve hospitals being sued instead of doctors because doctors can oftentimes be contracted to work at the hospital opposed to being an actual employee of the hospital.In emergencies, it is presumed that the patient was visiting the hospital’s emergency room. They were not going to see a specific doctor but rather, were seeking emergency medical attention. If negligence was committed in the ER, the hospital is responsible.
How we can help you
Emergency situations can happen fast and may result in poor decisions. Medical personnel who provide medical treatment during an emergency situation are typically protected from malpractice lawsuits in some way. However, medical personnel are not protected from careless or negligent actions.
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