When you visit an emergency room (ER), you expect to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. These are entirely reasonable expectations. As a patient, you are entitled to rely on your health care providers’ expertise—and you shouldn’t have to worry about getting worse instead of better.
Unfortunately, for many emergency room patients in Louisiana, this is a very real concern. Health care providers make mistakes—and they do so at alarming rates. Mistakes are particularly common in the ER, where doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators are often under significant stress and frequently need to make split-second decisions.
But, while these may be explanations for the high rate of medical malpractice in emergency rooms, they are not excuses. Louisiana law holds all health care providers to a certain standard of care. This includes hospitals, doctors, nurses, and others. If you or a loved one has received substandard care in a Louisiana ER, you may be entitled to financial compensation, and you should speak with an emergency room lawyer promptly.
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What are Common Examples of Emergency Room Medical Malpractice?
In the emergency room setting, medical malpractice can take many different forms, and even minor mistakes can have drastic (and in some cases life-threatening) consequences. This is why hospitals and their staff are subject to such rigorous standards. When making the right decision, administering the right medication, or reading a test result correctly is the difference between life and death, there is no room for error. Even when a patient’s condition is not life-threatening, a diagnostic mistake or treatment error could still lead to a lifetime of pain, suffering, limited mobility, and unnecessary medical expenses.
When does a mistake in the ER constitute medical malpractice? While each case requires a detailed factual analysis, some common examples of emergency room medical malpractice include:
- Anesthesia and surgery errors
- Failure to follow health, safety, or treatment protocols
- Failure to perform necessary tests (i.e. CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, or blood work)
- Failure to properly sterilize surgical tools
- Failure to properly treat wounds and prevent infections
- Improper intubation, stabilization, or ventilation
- Inadequate staffing (or hiring unqualified or incompetent staff)
- Misdiagnosing (or failing to diagnose) a patient’s condition
- Misreading test results
- Sending patients home without proper treatment (or without any treatment at all)
- Triage errors (i.e. failure to prioritize patients with emergency medical needs)
- Waiting too long to address complications arising in the ER
If you have any reason to be concerned about the quality of care you or a loved one received in a Louisiana emergency room, you should speak with an emergency room lawyer about your legal rights. While these are some of the most common examples, there are many additional forms of ER medical malpractice. All forms of ER medical malpractice can be costly, and patients and families who are affected by malpractice deserve to receive just compensation. It costs nothing to find out if you have a claim; and, with contingency-fee representation, you pay nothing unless you win.
When Can You File a Claim for Emergency Room Medical Malpractice?
Emergency room medical malpractice claims can involve all types of illnesses and injuries. Whether you went to the ER with a broken arm and were sent home without a diagnosis or an ER doctor misdiagnosed a loved one’s heart condition, you can – and should – talk to a lawyer about asserting your legal rights. Examples of conditions that can result from medical malpractice in the emergency room setting include:
- Brain damage
- Undiagnosed cancers and other medical conditions
- Complications from bone fractures and other untreated or improperly treated injuries
- Infections (including hospital-acquired infections)
- Severe allergic reactions
- Surgical injuries
Louisiana has a one-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. This one-year period runs from, “the date of the alleged act, omission, or neglect, or . . . the date of discovery of the alleged act, omission, or neglect.” However, even if you do not discover the health care provider’s mistake right away, at most, you have three years from the date of the mistake to file a claim in court. While some states have special rules for children and certain other types of patients, Louisiana does not.
What Losses Are You Entitled to Recover?
If you have an emergency room medical malpractice claim in Louisiana, you can seek compensation for all of the financial and non-financial costs of the health care provider’s mistake. This includes costs such as:
- Medical expenses
- Prescriptions, medical devices, and other out-of-pocket costs
- Loss of earnings
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
However, Louisiana law caps damages in medical malpractice cases at $500,000. This is an overarching cap that applies to all of the losses a patient (or a patient’s family) is entitled to recover. If a patient has ongoing medical needs, future medical expenses are not capped, but this is the only possible exception. These excess medical expenses are paid by the Louisiana Patient Compensation Fund, which also pays 80% of most medical malpractice damages awards in the state.
To make sure you are able to recover as much money as possible, you should discuss your case with an emergency room lawyer as soon as possible. There is no reason to wait, and, if anything, waiting will only make it more challenging to file a successful claim. Remember, it costs nothing out of pocket to get experienced legal representation. An experienced emergency room lawyer will be able to fully assess your legal rights, accurately calculate your short-term and long-term losses, and do what is necessary to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Speak with an Alexandria, LA Emergency Room Lawyer for Free
If you need to know more about filing a claim for emergency room medical malpractice in Louisiana, we encourage you to contact us promptly. To discuss your case with an experienced Alexandria, LA emergency room lawyer in confidence as soon as possible, call 318-413-6191 or tell us how we can reach you online now.