Doctors can make mistakes and errors in any setting. In fact, medical errors have been identified as one of the leading reasons for death in the United States, and thousands of more people suffer injuries every year.
In the emergency department, though, patients face even greater risks. Doctors often make errors because:
- They have incomplete information and cannot make a proper decision.
- They have to act very quickly, without time to consider options or dig deeper into the situation.
- They have unreliable information, such as statements from police officers at the scene who may not understand exactly what really happened.
- They have frequent interruptions, as an emergency room can be a chaotic place where it's impossible to predict when new patients will arrive.
- Life and death are often on the line, which makes the ER a very stressful place to work.
Some of these issues cannot be avoided. By its very nature, the emergency room is going to be unpredictable and chaotic. You can't schedule when people will get into car accidents or have medical emergencies.
That being said, doctors still have an obligation to provide proper care and do their best to avoid mistakes. This does not mean they will be perfect or that they have to be. But they cannot offer substandard care and make easily avoidable errors because they are negligent.
If they do offer this low-quality treatment, people are more likely to have complications or pass away from their injuries. When this happens, it's important for all those involved, including the victims and their families, to know what legal options they have.