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When can a wait in the emergency room lead to a negligence claim?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2022 | Medical Malpractice |

Most people have been to an emergency room at one time or another, whether it was for a bad cold or a broken bone. Most of the time, the triage team assesses people correctly and has them wait only when they can afford to.

Emergencies handled in emergency rooms are typically handled from the most severe to the least. Someone actively dying is always intended to be seen before someone with a non-life-threatening emergency. That said, sometimes, mistakes are made and people go without the emergency treatment they need.

Delays in treatment could be devastating for some patients

There’s no question that a delay in treatment could be catastrophic for some patients. For example, a patient who is going into diabetic ketoacidosis may seem okay one moment but have a seizure or severe change in blood sugar levels within minutes. Similarly, someone with chest pain might seem fine one moment but go into full cardiac arrest the next.

It’s up to the triage nurse to determine who should be seen and to make sure those who are waiting are seen as quickly as possible. If someone with a life-threatening disorder is skipped over or missed, the result of that error could be fatal.

What should you do if you’re not getting treatment fast enough in the emergency room?

Emergency rooms are busy places, so not all wait times are wrong. However, it is appropriate to notify a nurse if you or someone in your care starts to have a change in their medical condition. For instance, if your mom was complaining of a headache and came to the ER with what she thought was a migraine but now can’t form a sentence, inform the nurse right away. Since the condition has progressed, they may begin emergency treatment in response.

If you believe that the wait time in an emergency room is what results in devastating health consequences for you or someone else, it’s worth looking into a medical malpractice claim. It’s possible that errors were made that led to a long wait time when immediate care was needed for your condition.