People who first help patients in emergency situations are referred to as first responders, and the nature of their jobs affords them more protection from medical malpractice lawsuits. Because doctors and nurses are trained to provide advanced medical treatment in emergency situations, they are held to high expectations for care and maybe accountable if mistakes are made. Here’s a look at when different medical professionals can be held liable for medical malpractice in an emergency:
Most states have laws that protect the very first people to respond to an emergency, including ambulance crews, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. The purpose of these laws is to strengthen emergency services, which would otherwise be hindered by the threat of lawsuits. Even though first responders have the most legal protection from lawsuits, they are not completely exempt from medical malpractice lawsuits. If a first responder does something blatantly negligent, intentional, or reckless, he or she can still be held liable.
ER Doctors and Nurses
Emergency room personnel don’t have the same legal protection from medical malpractice claims as first responders. Emergency room doctors, nurses, and personnel still must adhere to standard medical malpractice rules. As in other medical malpractice cases, an emergency room patient who suffered personal injury must show that the doctor or nurse acted negligently in order to successfully file a medical malpractice claim.
In many emergency room medical malpractice cases, the hospital can be held liable for patient injury and harm. When a patient visits the emergency room, he or she isn’t visiting one particular doctor, and unbeknownst to the patient, the attending doctor may be working as an independent contractor hired by the hospital. However, if the patient knew that the doctor was working as an independent contractor in a non-emergency situation, the hospital can’t be held liable for the doctor’s negligence.
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