Medical Malpractice in Medical Emergencies--is there Such a Thing?

Under normal circumstances, patients chose what doctors to see, which hospitals to visit, and whether or not to seek medical care at all.  We all know that emergency situations are different.  People found unconscious and in need of medical attention can be attended to by emergency responders and spirited away to the closest hospital.

Given these facts, are first responders held to a different standard?  Is there limited liability?  

The experienced Kingston medical malpractice attorney knows that the answer to both questions is yes.

First and foremost, policy in New York is to encourage people to help others in harm.  Fear of law suits could make one hesitant to help someone in need of emergency medical help.  

Therefore, emergency medical technicians, fire fighters, and peace officers that respond on the scene to provide medical attention receive what can be called a special status; their liability and the liability of their employers will be limited.  When such liability will be limited and when it will not is a fine line and best discussed with an experienced attorney.  

What about emergency room staff?  Are they first responders too?  No, not in the traditional sense.  They do help in emergency situations, but they do not normally work on the streets and help persons in need at the place where the harm occurred.  

Therefore, the doctors, nurses, etcetera that which staff emergency rooms do not have special status and the normal rules of medical malpractice liability apply to their negligent treatment of patients.  Any duty they have to their patient that is breached; the injuries caused thereby; the damages suffered by the victim will potentially lead to a jury verdict or out of court settlement in the victim’s favor.  

Not only can the medical professional be sued, but the hospital can be sued as well.  This is especially so because emergency room staff is employed by the hospital.  The hospital should ensure that such staff is properly trained and educated.  Their policies and procedures should reflect the standards applicable to emergency room care.  

Hospitals can be held civilly liable even if they do not treat a patient.  If the patient was turned away without being seen, say because the patient could not pay, the hospital can be liable for any harm suffered by the patient as a result of being turned away.  Even the victim’s family can sue for compensation in some instances.  

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected]  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.

Be the first to comment!
Post a Comment