Emergency medicine is a unique area due to the wide range of conditions that are dealt with. The job of the emergency room physician involves more than just the evaluation and treatment of trauma and sudden illness. Many chronic or long-standing conditions can become emergent and require rapid and appropriate attention.
Emergency rooms are often some of the busiest, poorly staffed, and overworked areas of hospitals. It has been estimated that half of people who die each year from medical malpractice are killed as a result of emergency room errors.
Common emergency room issues include improper diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and infection, as well as improper responses to trauma and acute injury.
Inadequate response to stroke is a particularly tragic problem. Strokes most commonly come in two varieties – thrombotic (a clot) and hemorrhagic (bleeding). Both are usually diagnosable with a prompt CT scan, and are usually treatable once diagnosed. However, both varieties require a very rapid response, and in some cases the treatment is not beneficial after a set time period. Too often these patients are either made to wait long periods, or are misdiagnosed and discharged.
An example of an emergency medicine case handled by the attorneys at Kelley/Uustal is the case of a boy who presented to the emergency room having a stroke following a head injury. The facility wanted to transfer him to another hospital because the boy’s family didn’t have private insurance. A dispute arose between the doctors at the two facilities, but no doctor would treat the boy – the facilities blamed each other for not intervening. The boy was left in a wheelchair for life. A $7 million recovery was made on behalf of the boy and his family.