Medical malpractice in California involves causing harm to a patient due to errors or neglect. It also extends to any part of the hospital or facility caring for patients. Many errors occur in the emergency rooms (ERs) of hospitals because of the hectic nature, but it still counts as medical malpractice.
ER malpractice and immunity
ERs treat thousands of people, which means staff members must decide who needs treatment quicker. And they must make an immediate diagnosis. Stats indicate that 20% of all medical errors take place in the ER, and 2% of the errors cause harm.
Some states have sovereign immunity laws that protect first responders including firefighters, from frivolous and frequent lawsuits. Other states have limited immunity, meaning the circumstances for liability may be restricted to bad faith. ER doctors and nurses rarely get this immunity applied to them, and first responders don’t have complete protection from malpractice lawsuits.
Proof of malpractice
Certain elements need to be present to establish malpractice. The patient must show that the defendant violated a standard of care another competent medical professional would have followed in the same situation. However, ERs commonly have a different definition of competent care since they must act urgently and may not have time to apply the same standard, such as running tests.
The patient should have a relationship with the staff or doctor treating him or her who owed a duty of care. Admittance records and charts relationship could prove such a relationship existed. The doctor or medical staff must have acted negligently and that the actions caused the patient harm.
Proving ER medical malpractice can be tricky, and it often takes expert testimony to prove the case. A patient who feels the ER caused his or her current problems should get advice from an attorney.
Source: EMS World, “Immunity Statutes: How State Laws Protect EMS Providers,” May 31, 2005