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Medical Malpractice During Emergencies

Written by Berkowitz

emergency vehicles in actionDuring emergency medical care situations, special rules apply when injuries occur. First responders, for example, are protected from medical malpractice lawsuits. While these protections do not apply to physicians and nurses in the emergency room, it is still important that injured victims understand what rights they have if they are injured during a medical emergency.

Who is Liable When Malpractice Occurs in an Emergency?

If you are injured by medical personnel in an emergency situation, your options for compensation may be limited, depending on the circumstances of your injury. Liability will rely heavily on whether or not the individual responsible was reckless or negligent.

First Responders

A first responder has strong protection against malpractice lawsuits. This includes all firefighters, police officers, ambulance crews and emergency medical technicians. These protections are there to preserve the integrity of first response situations. However, a first responder is not 100 percent protected. While the law does offer them more protections than a physician or nurse, if the first responder does something negligent or reckless, he or she may not fall under state protections.

If a first responder has shown up to the job intoxicated, that professional failed to provide the proper lifesaving techniques, which caused patient suffered injuries or death. In this instance, the first responder was reckless. Therefore, the state protections will not apply.

Normal Malpractice and ER Physicians or Nurses

Malpractice still applies to emergency room (ER) personnel – including doctors and nurses. As with all other malpractice claims, the plaintiff must still provide proof that the physician failed to act competently and, therefore, acted negligently.

The key in these emergency situations is how another physician would have acted in a similar situation. Actions of a physician outside of the emergency medical care realm would not be compared to the actions of an emergency room physician. If, however, another competent and qualified emergency room physician would have acted differently, then the doctor who committed the error would be considered negligent under the law.

Hospitals and Vicarious Liability

In emergency room cases, it is often the hospital that is found liable for the physician’s negligence. Because emergency room doctors are typically employees of the hospital, it may have vicarious liability for the actions of the physician.

Also, in an emergency room situation, patients are visiting the emergency room – not the physician. Therefore, even if the physician was not an employee, the hospital could still be held liable for injuries and damages.

Consult an Attorney Regarding Your Emergency Medical Care Injuries

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an emergency medical situation, you may still be entitled to compensation for such injuries. You will need to speak with an attorney to assess your case first. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.