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By its very name, the emergency room deals with urgent medical problems. In this situation, permanent injury or death can occur if the doctors do not promptly provide care.
Doctors often work long hours in the emergency room. Twelve-hour shifts are standard, including overnight shifts. In addition, the emergency department commonly staffs with residents who are completing their medical training. The hospitals often require residents to work 60 hours per week. As a result, they regularly work without adequate sleep and sufficient time off. Fatigue can lead to poor decision-making and poor care delivered. In this setting, medical malpractice occurs.
The following are examples of emergency room calls that the Kopec Law Firm receives calls about.
One tragic scenario that reoccurs in emergency rooms is when a patient goes in with heart problem symptoms, and the doctor misdiagnoses it as a gastrointestinal problem such as heartburn or acid reflux.
The symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain and shortness of breath. In addition, the patient may have risk factors for a heart attack. These include men over 45, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and family history of heart attack.
These symptoms and risk factors may require tests, such as an EKG, blood tests, and echocardiography. There also may be treatment in the cardiac catheterization lab to unblock arteries, such as stent or balloon angioplasty.
However, if the symptoms of a heart attack are mistaken for heartburn, there may be emergency room malpractice. The patient may be discharged home without getting the needed tests and treatment to prevent further damage.
Mark Kopec represented a client in a tragic case in these very circumstances. The emergency room sent home a man wrongly telling him he had heartburn. Shortly after, he was Christmas shopping with his wife when he had a massive heart attack and died. Lawyer Mark was able to get compensation for his wife for her loss.
Fall and Brain Bleed
The emergency room regularly sees patients who have fallen. It is a concern when someone injures the head during a fall. Head injury symptoms include a headache that worsens, nausea, drowsiness, slurred speech, and lack of coordination.
Whenever the head is injured, there is a concern that the brain could bleed and the potential for emergency room malpractice. When a blood vessel, like a vein, tears, the bleeding can result in a subdural hematoma. The accumulation of blood can cause pressure on the brain.
A CT scan or MRI of the brain can diagnose the subdural hematoma. If diagnosed timely, surgery can drain the blood that has built up. If not treated properly, the subdural hematoma can cause death.
The emergency room also frequently deals with cases of appendicitis. Appendicitis happens when the appendix becomes inflamed, often due to a blockage. The infection starts and grows, and pus accumulates.
Pain in the lower right or middle abdomen is often a sign of appendicitis. There also may be nausea and changes in bowel habits.
If the infection gets bad enough, it can cause the appendix to burst. A burst or ruptured appendix can spread this poison throughout the abdomen and cause peritonitis. The patient will probably need surgery to clean the midsection.
Peritonitis can be life-threatening and can result from emergency room malpractice. Even if successfully treated, it can leave permanent organ damage.
As a result, the doctor must diagnose appendicitis and proceed to surgery before the appendix bursts. A delay that results in a burst appendix may be medical malpractice.
If your treatment in the emergency room resulted in a bad medical outcome, call 800-604-0704 to speak directly with lawyer Mark Kopec.
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