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Home > Case Management
6 Perspectives on Emergency Care Liability
6 Perspectives on Emergency Care Liability
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Over 136 million people visit hospital emergency departments in the U.S. each year. Of the patients sent home from emergency rooms, between 600,000 to one million return within 72 hours due to medical errors. Hospital and physician liability may result when emergency care is not optimal, when the emergency room is overcrowded and a delay occurs, complications arise, mistakes are made, there is a failure to communicate critical test results, information is lost in the handoff of the patient's care, or a diagnosis is made based on a partial fit with the patient's symptoms but without serious consideration of alternatives.

Mistakes in the emergency room result in lawsuits. Health management, insurers, risk managers, and others must be aware of the types of lawsuits that may arise and what strategies to employ when an error occurs in an emergency medical situation.

6 Perspectives on Emergency Care Liability provides the perspectives of all parties involved in emergency care litigation. The report gives you and your organization an edge by reducing your litigation exposure. It is critical information for hospital emergency room staff, risk managers, insurers, physician's defense counsel, plaintiff's attorneys, and others.

Table of Contents:

I. Emergency medicine liability

A. Emergency department visits

B. Returns to emergency department

C. Potential for hospital liability

D. Theories of liability

  • Negligence and medical malpractice
  • Intentional tort
  • Vicarious or other liability
  • Breach of contract
  • Statutory violation
  • Important cases

E. Defenses

  • Good Samaritan
  • Sudden emergency

II. Understanding the medical aspects of emergency care

A. Emergency care, in general

B. Emergency departments, generally

C. Maintenance of emergency care medical records

D. Guidelines for hospital emergency care

E. Patient care in hospital emergency departments

F. Emergency care of the trauma patient

G. Emergency department staff

III. Expert guidance

A. What steps can emergency physicians take to avoid liability when providing care?

B. What guidance should attorneys consider when facing the challenges of emergency medical malpractice litigation?

IV. Strategies for avoiding liability for emergency care

A. Hospital-employers and risk managers

  • Use pre-litigation practical tools
  • Determine status of healthcare provider
  • Important hospital vicarious liability cases

B. Insurers

  • Examine policy; investigate injury
  • Important insurance coverage case

C. Physicians and health providers

  • Prove high standard of care; disprove proximate cause
  • Important cases on expert testimony and malpractice

D. Plaintiff’s attorney

  • Present all elements of cause of action
  • Important cases on physician-patient relationship and standard of care

V. Checklists

A. Hospital-employer and risk manager checklist

  • Important references

B. Insurer checklist

  • Important references

C. Physician and health provider checklist

  • Important references

D. Plaintiff’s attorney checklist

  • Important references

VI. Litigation concerns

A. Alternative dispute resolution

  • Arbitration
  • Mediation

B. Settlement of the case

  • Hospital-employer and risk manager
  • Insurer
  • Physician and health provider
  • Plaintiff’s attorney

C. Taking the case to trial

  • Hospital-employer and risk manager
  • Insurer
  • Physician and health provider
  • Plaintiff’s attorney

D. Jury verdicts and settlements

VII. Case law

VIII. Reference for further guidance

Publication Date: November 2013
Number of Pages: 62
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