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How Are ER Malpractice Claims Different

Medical malpractice is always worrisome, but it can be especially lethal or injurious in the emergency room. At the moment people need competent care the most, the price of negligence is often at its highest. Filing a malpractice claim based on ER care is different, though. ER malpractice attorneys advise their clients to be aware of these four differences.


The first defense a hospital or physician will consider is that the circumstances were extraordinary. ER situations tend to be hectic, and doctors and staff members have to act quickly. Consequently, they may argue that the circumstances dictate a different standard of care than if your general practitioner committed malpractice.

However, the standard of competency remains the same. Emergencies often simplify malpractice issues. If a surgeon attempted an unproven procedure, for example, ER malpractice lawyers will question why the doctor didn't try something more traditional. After all, doctors should stick to the tried and true under extreme circumstances.

Staffing Availability

Emergency rooms are notoriously short-staffed. Even though this is when you need competent care the most, people are tired and working with insufficient help. This isn't an indictment of the doctors and nurses. Instead, the focus in these cases tends to be on the hospital as an organization.

ER malpractice attorneys might demand the discovery of documents about why a hospital was short-staffed. They could also depose administrators about decisions regarding pay, scheduling, and even stocking medicine and equipment.


Hospital staff members have to make snap decisions that can lead to delayed care. The hospital, however, is liable if those decisions were negligent. If a duty nurse waived through someone with a sinus infection while holding up a person who exhibited signs of a stroke, the stroke victim could have cause for legal action. Understandably, delays often also relate to staffing problems.


Many emergencies involve complex issues. Even if the doctors have the time to order tests and stabilize the situation, the inherent nature of medical problems in the ER can lead to mistakes and misdiagnoses. The difference in how an ER staff might treat a first- or third-degree burn, could be life-altering for the victim if the doctor gets it wrong.

Frequently, the question of malpractice boils down to what other doctors similarly situated would do. ER malpractice lawyers often get reports and testimony from other medical professionals to show what the standard of care should have been regardless of the problem's complexity. For more information, contact an ER malpractice attorney near you.