Not every interaction with a medical professional will end up curing your ailment, but even a negative outcome is not necessarily cause for a lawsuit. The legitimacy of a claim will revolve around the standard of care in an Albany ER malpractice case. A trustworthy ER malpractice attorney could investigate whether this standard was breached or not.

What is the Medical Standard of Care?

The standard of care is the rule for how medical professionals are supposed to treat their patients. This is typically a national standard of care, whether it is emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery, neurological surgery, infectious disease, or urology, with each having their own unique standards.

In the area of emergency department care, the standard of care lays out what the doctor is supposed to do based upon the clinical presentation of the patient. The clinical presentations are the signs and symptoms that the patient is providing to the doctor at the time of the visit.

Differences for the ER Standard of Care

In emergency room-level care, the standard of care of the physician is to rule out any emergency medical conditions, specifically those that place a real risk that the patient could die or be seriously harmed within the next 24 to 48 hours.

For example, a patient might go in and complain of back pain. The question is, based upon that clinical presentation, is the patient at risk for an emergency medical condition? The answer is most likely no, because a back condition is a common complaint. But if a patient’s presenting with not only lower back pain, but they also cannot feel their legs or walk, that is a serious problem because that is a new onset of a neurological deficit. In most cases, the cause of something like that would be some compression or impingement upon the spinal cord. When that happens, the doctor has to relieve the compression on the spinal cord because partial or complete paralysis could result if they do not. If a person with these symptoms did not get treated, that could be ER malpractice due to a violation of the standard of care in Albany.

When Does the Standard of Care Relationship Start?

The standard of care starts as soon as the patient enters the emergency department. A triage nurse should take a history from the patient and ask why they are there, what symptoms they have, and how long they have had them. The need for the triage is to determine if this patient needs immediate care or if they can they wait a little longer.

If the patient needs emergency care – such as for a potential heart attack – a nurse must identify it as a major red flag and order testing and treatment immediately. For something on the level of a sprained ankle, they would likely have to wait until a doctor was available. That patient might be seen by a mid-level provider, a nurse practitioner, or a physician’s assistant because a sprained ankle is something that can be treated conservatively.

Evidence of a Standard Breach

To determine whether the standard of care was violated in an Albany emergency room malpractice claim, it would be ideal to have an opinion from a Board-certified medical doctor (preferably an emergency medicine physician) who would review the records and give their professional opinion. Once there is an opinion from a physician that the standard of care was violated and that the violation led to harm or injury to the patient, then the case has merit and can move forward.

Talk with an Albany Attorney About the Standard of Care in Your Malpractice Case

Emergency rooms can be hectic but the staff must still follow a basic rule of treatment. If you think the standard of care in an Albany ER malpractice case was violated, you might have a valid claim. Call a lawyer today to learn what is possible.