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September 1, 2023

Emergency rooms have a tendency to be very busy. Emergency room physicians are some of the most challenged in medicine today. While emergency rooms can be chaotic, medical malpractice law might afford an emergency room doctor more latitude than might be given to other doctors who have time to map out the proper course of treatment. This latitude, however, must not be given unlimited leeway. Emergency room doctors are still held accountable for harms caused to patients because of deviations from the standard of care. The patient must prove three elements to win a medical malpractice lawsuit based on errors that occurred in the emergency room. These elements are as follows:

  1. That there was a patient-doctor relationship,
  2. The emergency treatment involved negligence, and
  3. The patient was harmed because of the negligence.

Doctor-patient relationship Establishing this relationship is generally straightforward. The doctor-patient relationship is typically formed when a doctor treats a patient in the emergency room. Records and treatment charts of the patient are usually sufficient to demonstrate a doctor-patient relationship.

Negligence Negligence occurs when the doctor fails to comply with the standard of care. A physician who does not provide care within the standard of care under similar circumstances might be liable for negligence. To prove negligence, the patient must establish:

  1. The standard of care, and
  2. Breach of the standard of care.

Emergency standard of care For most emergency room errors lawsuits, the standard of care requires expert testimony.

Standard of care breach The patient must show that the emergency room treatment did not comply with the standard of care. The plaintiff must prove that the physician’s negligence caused harm to win the medical malpractice lawsuit. This harm includes pain and suffering, the cost of medical bills due to additional corrective treatment, loss of earning capacity, and loss of the ability to enjoy life.

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