Emergency room corridor

When Does Poor Emergency Room Care Become Medical Malpractice?

Patients enter emergency rooms under pressing circumstances, without making appointments or checking medical credentials. They seek resolution to urgent problems, such as deep cuts, burns, serious infections, or broken bones and, most of the time, they are well taken care of. Nonetheless, when emergency rooms fail their patients, the results may be catastrophic. If you have suffered serious harm due to emergency room neglect or substandard care, you should seek the counsel of a well-respected New Mexico medical malpractice firm

Reasons Errors Are More Common in Emergency Rooms

It is extremely unfortunate that at a time when medical treatment is non-negotiable, it is most likely to be hurried and a bit chaotic. Due to the rush and tumult of the environment, mistakes are more commonly made in the ER than in other parts of the hospital. Errors that may lead to medical malpractice lawsuits can occur because:

  • Doctors are not familiar with their patients and often cannot access medical records as quickly as necessary
  • Emergency rooms are typically understaffed even before a widespread calamity occurs
  • Doctors and nurses are physically and mentally exhausted by long hours of treating trauma and life-threatening illness
  • There may be crowding due to a major accident or outbreak of illness (not only COVID-19, but perhaps an outbreak of food poisoning)
  • Patients, their friends or relatives and hospital personnel are all not only hurrying, but under extreme stress, which often leads to miscommunications and false assumptions 

If you are mistreated during an ER visit or suffer worsening health after such a visit, you may be able to file a successful malpractice lawsuit and be awarded substantial damages. Only an experienced, knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer will be able to assess your case and provide you with proper legal representation.

Types of Emergency Room Malpractice

There is a great deal of room for error in an emergency room due to the reasons mentioned above. Some errors may be small, rectifiable mistakes, but others may demonstrate that a medical professional or even a hospital system failed you in a serious way. At Hunt Law Firm we believe those who violate the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm” must be held accountable.

Common types of emergency room malpractice include:

  • Improper triage: making a patient wait far too long to receive required treatment
  • Misdiagnosis of a patient’s condition 
  • Administration of too much or too little medication 
  • Failure to take a full medical history and/or failure to pay attention to its details
  • Failure to perform a necessary diagnostic test or properly interpret its results
  • Failure to call in a specialist when necessary
  • Premature discharge of a patient 
  • Refusing to treat a patient who is unable to pay
  • Transferring a patient to another hospital for financial reasons
  • Wrongful birth
  • Wrongful death

How Medical Malpractice Is Determined in New Mexico

Medical malpractice laws differ from state to state so it is essential to work with an attorney who has in-depth knowledge of state law in New Mexico. 

New Mexico’s Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in New Mexico is 3 years. Exceptions are made for minors under the age of 6, however, whose parents have the right to file a lawsuit until the child is 9 years of age. 

New Mexico Medical Review Commission

Another important aspect of New Mexico medical malpractice law is that any lawsuit filed against a healthcare provider must first be reviewed by the New Mexico Medical Review Commission. The application for review by the commission must include all specific information related to the case and will be examined by three medical experts in the appropriate specialty and three attorneys from the state. This panel must rule, by secret ballot, that there is a “reasonable medical probability” that malpractice occurred for the case to be litigated.

New Mexico’s Medical Malpractice Damages Cap

In New Mexico there is a cap of $600,000 on non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, and on non-medical economic damages, such as loss of income. New Mexico does not cap any “medical care and related benefits,” including long-term care for a permanent disability. There is, however, another unusual aspect of New Mexico’s distribution of damages. Instead of awarding the plaintiff a lump sum payment for anticipated future health care, the state will continue to award damages as expenses arise over the patient’s lifetime.

As you can see, determining when poor emergency room care becomes medical malpractice is especially difficult in New Mexico. You will need a strong, competent medical malpractice attorney to win the compensation you deserve.