Medical Malpractice in Emergencies


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Special rules apply to injuries caused by medical malpractice during emergency medical care. State laws protect "first responders" from most lawsuits. And even though no such protections apply to doctors and nurses in the emergency room, emergencies by their very nature lower the professional expectation to avoid mistakes. Here is some legal information regarding when first responders, ER doctors and medical staff, hospitals, and off-duty doctors are liable for medical malpractice during an emergency. This free legal information is provided by the medical malpractice attorneys at The Clore Law Group LLC in Charleston, SC.

Who Is Liable for Medical Malpractice During Emergencies?

If a patient is injured by medical personnel in an emergency medical situation, whether the patient has redress depends on who acted recklessly or negligently -- the medical personnel who first respond to the emergency or the doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel in the emergency room. Most states have one or more statutes (written laws) that protect the "first responders" to medical emergencies (those who are the first to respond to an emergency and give medical care to the patient) from lawsuits. This includes ambulance crews, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. Lawmakers have added these protections in order to preserve emergency services, which would otherwise be subject to frequent lawsuits.However, first responders are not completely protected from malpractice. Although the law varies from state to state, in essence if a first responder does something totally reckless, blatantly negligent (without using reasonable care), or intentional, he or she could be liable for malpractice. In such a case, the first responder's employer will ultimately be responsible (legally and financially) for medical malpractice. Normal Malpractice Rules Apply to ER Doctors and Nurses The protections provided to first responders do not extend to emergency room personnel. Standard medical malpractice rules apply to doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel working in the emergency room.As in other medical malpractice situations, the patient must prove that a competent doctor under the same circumstances would not have made the mistake -- this is called negligence. The key here is the phrase "under the same circumstances." Because the emergency room does not allow for the calm consideration available in other medical contexts, the mistake must often be fairly severe to rise to the level of negligence.As with most malpractice cases, both sides will hire experts to testify about what a competent doctor would have done in the same situation. Hospitals Are Often Sued as Employers The hospital is often on the hook for a doctor's or other medical staff person's medical malpractice in the emergency room. Although hospitals are almost always liable for medical staff mistakes, that is normally not true with doctors. In a non-emergency situation, if the doctor is not an employee of the hospital (many are independent contractors) and the patient knew that fact, the hospital is not responsible for the doctor's negligence.In the emergency room, however, this changes because (1) the patient is going to the ER, not the doctor in particular, and (2) the hospital doesn't have an opportunity to inform the patient that the attending doctor is an independent contractor. As a result, hospitals are often on the hook for an ER doctor's medical malpractice.

Contact a Charleston Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, you have rights. Choosing the best Charleston Medical Malpractice attorney is crucial to your future ability to pay for the medical needs resulting from their health providers negligence. Call the medical malpractice attorney at The Clore Law Group LLC today for a free consultation regrading your injuries.

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Clore Law Group welcomes your questions about any issues concerning a serious personal injury, car accident, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, or business tort. If you have a viable claim, we’ll explain the legal process. Since consultations are always free, there’s no cost in learning your legal options.