Emergency Room Malpractice in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC

By Peter DePaolis

Two friends were out partying one night. One of the friends had his four-year-old son with him. An argument broke out over whether one of the friends would drive drunk with the child. At some point during the argument, one of the friends stabbed the other one in the thigh with a knife.

When the victim arrived at the emergency room, the doctor was told that the victim was stabbed with a knife and that the length of the blade was not known. The emergency room doctor assumed that the knife blade was small.

However, the blade turned out to be very large. As the victim was deteriorating, the emergency room doctor called a general surgeon who only arrived three hours later. By this time, the victim was in hemorrhagic shock secondary to a stab wound and blood loss. After being transferred to the ICU, the victim died.

The malpractice lawsuit stated that the emergency room doctor should have gotten more details about the length of the knife, and that treatment should have been more aggressive. An offer of $500,000 was made to the victim’s family but was ultimately rejected.

Emergency room errors

Emergency room errors usually occur due to a high volume of patients and a low number of attending physicians available. A Harvard study claimed that the hospital emergency room department had the highest proportion of adverse events due to negligence than any other department. The lack of physicians and staff, and part-time employees lead to diagnostic errors and treatment errors.

Time issues in an emergency room situation

It is essential to be timely in an emergency room situation as some conditions and long-term disabilities may be prevented by prompt attention and competent action on the part of the emergency room physician and staff. The Harvard study found that patients suffering from heart attacks had to wait an average of eight minutes to get medical attention— time that could mean devastating results.

Most common emergency room mistakes

  • Late or wrong diagnosis
  • Laboratory testing errors
  • Contaminated blood transfusions
  • Errors in patient condition evaluation
  • Giving the wrong medication to patients
  • Failure to monitor patients

If you received the wrong diagnosis or had a brain injury related to an emergency room situation, contact a Washington, D.C. brain injury lawyer. Even if you did not suffer a brain injury, contact a Washington, D.C. brain injury lawyer to find out your rights in an emergency room medical malpractice case.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.