Emergency Medicine Can Be Negligent Too

Medical Malpractice Mistakes

When a person is injured while receiving emergency medical care, special rules apply should medical malpractice occur.  “First responders” tend to be protected by state law.  Even though there are no such protections for doctors and nurses in the emergency room, by their very nature, emergencies lower the professional expectation to avoid mistakes.

First Responders

In most states, there are statutes that protect “first responders” from lawsuits.  These first responders include ambulance crews, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians.  These protections have been added to preserve emergency services.

However, there is not complete protection for first responders from a malpractice claim.  While the laws vary from state to state, should a first responder do something totally reckless, blatantly negligent, or intention, he or she may still be liable for medical malpractice.

Doctors and Nurses in the Emergency Room

The protections provided to first responders do not extend to emergency room personnel.  The standard medical malpractice rules apply to doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel who work in the emergency room.

As is the case in other medical malpractice situations, patients need to prove that under the same circumstances, a competent doctor would not have made the same mistake.  Since calm consideration is generally not allowed for in emergency room situations, mistakes will often need to be fairly severe to be considered negligence.


Should a doctor or other medical professional commit medical malpractice in an emergency room, the hospital is often on the hook.  In non-emergency situations, doctors who are not employees of the hospital, and the patients is aware of this, then the hospital is not responsible for the negligence of the doctor.

However, this does not necessarily apply in the emergency room.  First, the patient is not going to see a particular doctor, he or she is going to the emergency room.  Secondly, the hospital does not have an opportunity to tell the patient that the doctor who will be treating them is not a hospital employee but rather an independent contractor.  Therefore, the hospital will often be on the hook for the medical malpractice of an emergency room doctor.

If you or a loved one had been injured as a result of medical malpractice occurring in the emergency room, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com.  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.