Many Texas medical malpractice lawyers shy away from accepting any emergency room (ER) cases. The reason is that Texas law places a higher standard of proof—called willful and wanton negligence—on hospital ER medical malpractice cases involving bona fide emergency care.
At Painter Law Firm we continue to accept ER cases by carefully reviewing and investigating the facts from the get-go, to make sure there is a way to pursue the claim under the demanding Texas ER standard.
In my experience, the most common ER medical malpractice cases fall into four categories.
Diagnosis-related ER malpractice
• Failure to establish a differential diagnosis. Every physician is taught the differential diagnosis method in medical school. It involves taking the patient history, doing a physical examination, and making a list of every potential diagnosis that could explain the patient’s clinical condition. Unfortunately, some ER doctors rush to a conclusion and decide on the wrong diagnosis without forming a differential diagnosis. This needlessly endangers patients.
• Failure to order diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests, including lab work or radiology imaging, are helpful in ruling in or out potential conditions from the differential diagnosis list.
• Failure to address abnormal findings. Sometimes when physicians make a knee-jerk incorrect diagnosis, they’ll stick with it despite other abnormal findings, which they ignore.
Poor management or treatment ER malpractice
• Failure to stabilize a patient’s neck following an accident.
• Failure to explore a wound that was found to be infected or contain foreign bodies.
Improper performance of treatment or procedure ER malpractice
• Intubation of the respiratory tract. Intubation involves inserting an endotracheal breathing tube through a patient’s mouth to secure the airway. If the doctor doesn’t verify proper placement, the person will be deprived of oxygen and can quickly develop brain damage.
• Imaging procedures.
• Insertion of an IV or central line for medications.
Failure to order medications ER malpractice
• Not immediately ordering a tissue plasminogen activator (the clot-busting drug tPA) in suspected myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke patients. There is a limited time when tPA is effective, so it’s important to make the correct decision promptly.
• Not ordering antibiotics for patients with suspected pneumonia.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor emergency room care, then contact a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in evaluating your potential case.