Nobody wants to end up in an emergency room (ER). These visits usually occur when your health situation is urgent or no other care options are available. In most cases, the ER staff assesses the problem and helps treat the patient, but in a small percentage of cases, a visit to the emergency room makes matters worse. When Indiana emergency room negligence or improper care results in injuries or death, injured individuals and their families may have the right to be compensated for Indiana ER malpractice and related losses.
How Indiana ER Malpractice Happens
Emergency rooms can be chaotic places, with a variety of injuries ranging from stomach pains or small bone breaks to life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, or serious traumatic injuries. Indiana emergency room nurses and physicians must often make split-second decisions when assessing a patient and deciding on a course of treatment. With a large volume of patients and a small window of time, unintentional errors in treatment may occur.
Emergency room staff face a variety of challenges in patient care, including more patients than they have time to see and the need as first responders to be aware of even the rarest presentation of symptoms to quickly recognize conditions and ascertain the best course of treatment. Emergency care is difficult, but when emergency room injuries occur due to preventable errors or negligence, the injured party and their family may suffer for years to come. An Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at Camden & Meridew, P.C. can assist those impacted by Indiana ER malpractice in recovering compensation.
Common Causes of Emergency Room Injuries
There are a variety of things that can go wrong during an emergency room visit—even before a patient is seen by a doctor. Sometimes, the lengthy wait times for treatment that many Indiana ER patients experience can lead to a worsening of symptoms. In some cases, a patient could have had a more favorable outcome if treated when they first presented to the emergency room. When these waits are caused by preventable conditions as simple as understaffing, a patient who suffered a worse condition from the wait may have a malpractice claim.
Once seen by the emergency room staff, a patient might be harmed by a failure to properly diagnose a condition or a failure to order the tests necessary to determine proper treatment. Emergency room staff might misread an X-ray or CT scan result, or the laboratory might make an error in processing a patient’s bloodwork, any of which could lead medical staff to make a treatment decision that worsens the patient’s condition or introduces new medical problems.
Emergency room treatment itself can lead to harm when there are errors in medication administration, procedure errors such as unnecessary surgery, or miscommunications between treating physicians, nurses, and staff.
Post-treatment, an emergency room patient might be harmed by an infection that was contracted as a result of the treatment itself, such as an infection at an incision site or MRSA, a common and sometimes life-threatening staph infection that spreads when medical staff do not properly wash their hands between patients.
Legislation and Reforms Impacting Indiana ER Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice claims have long led to speculation that patients were suing too frequently and claims that sizable awards made the practice of medicine prohibitively expensive to insure. In response, the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act was passed in 1975.
The first state to pass such legislation, Indiana’s act implemented a medical review panel consisting of three physicians who evaluate proposed medical malpractice complaints. The panel issues a report on the merits of the proposed claim. The patient uses that report, in part, to decide whether or not to file a lawsuit in court after the medical review panel process and pursue a medical malpractice claim. If the patient does file a complaint, the panel’s report is admissible evidence, and the panel members may be called as witnesses. However, the panel opinion is not binding on a judge or jury.
The reforms found in Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act were an effort to provide balanced protections to both patients—needing recourse for injuries—and doctors and hospitals. However, the legislation adds a layer of procedures and red tape through which injured patients and their families have to trudge. Enlisting the help of an Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer with experience in the claims process can reduce the burden on victims and families.
Filing an Indiana ER Malpractice Claim
Today in Indiana, patients or family members asserting medical malpractice have two years from the date of the alleged malpractice in which to file a claim. The claimant must prove an act or failure to act by a healthcare provider that caused the patient harm. When a claimant is successful in an emergency room malpractice claim, damages are capped at $1.8 million of which the medical providers are responsible for the first $500,000.00 and the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund covers the excess up to an additional $1.3 million. If you have suffered injury as the result of treatment in an Indiana emergency room, your best bet is to contact a skilled attorney with experience in Indiana ER malpractice as soon as possible. An Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer like David Allen at Camden & Meridew, P.C. can help you evaluate and preserve your malpractice claim. Contact David by calling 317-770-0000 or by completing the firm’s online contact form to discuss how you can get the compensation that you are entitled to for emergency room injuries you or a loved one have suffered.