When you need immediate medical care, the rules of medical malpractice
change. In emergency situations, the need for treatment trumps the diligent
need to protect a patient from mistakes, and first-responders are usually
protected in the event of a lawsuit. Even though there are protections
granted to responders in emergency medical situations, there are still
many ways that medical professionals can be held accountable when they
make medical mistakes.
Who is liable in an emergency situation?
First responders are the people that first arrive on the scene of an emergency
and give initial medical care, oftentimes consisting of firefighters,
ambulances, and EMTs. Unless these responders acted in a completely reckless,
negligence, or intentionally harmful manner, they cannot be held liable
for medical malpractice. However, once the patient has arrived in the
emergency room, doctors, nurses, and the hospital are subjected to the
standard rules of medical malpractice.
In an emergency situation:
- The extreme and rushed nature of the emergency room does not prevent the
need to prove that a doctor in a similar situation would have acted differently,
usually meaning the mistake that caused injury was a major one.
- Hospitals can be sued since the patient is visiting the hospital as a whole,
not a particular doctor, and the hospital does not have the opportunity
to inform the patient that the doctor may be an independent contractor.
If the hospital that you are brought to receives Medicare funding, they
are legally obligated to provide treatment to you. This means that they
must provide a medical screening and stabilize your condition to the best
extent possible. If they do not abide by this law, then the hospital can
be subjected to a financial liability.
Additionally, in order to encourage people to assist those experiencing
medical distress, all states have established a Good Samaritan rule. This
rule prevents a bystander that helped another person from being liable
for medical malpractice as long as they did not act recklessly or in a
way that needlessly endangered their life.
When bringing a medical malpractice case in an emergency situation, extra
care must be given to ensure that you have a valid case. While medical
errors may occur before you make it into the emergency room, emergency
responders and Good Samaritans are usually exempted from medical malpractice
laws due to the immediate nature of their actions. The best way to determine
whether or not you should bring actions against medical professionals is by
speaking with a seasoned medical malpractice attorney. With over 20 years of experience, you can be confident that the Oregon
attorney at The Law Offices of Patrick L. Block, P.C. has your best interests at heart.