Deadly Delays in Florida’s Emergency Rooms

Nobody likes going to the emergency room, as most people do not really understand that their own life could be saved by prompt emergency medical intervention. For those without health insurance, the decision to trek to the ER is more complicated. According to Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, our country’s Emergency Rooms provide free government supported healthcare to the uninsured. Anyone without health insurance who has recently visited an ER will disagree. So does, Dr. David Seaberg, the president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), who recently stated that “emergency care is not health insurance.”

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ER’s are Overcrowded

Last year more than 136 million Americans who sought treatment at ERs and not just for medical emergencies. Many patients with good health insurance have trouble getting appointments quickly with their own primary care doctors, and end up going to the ER instead. Others, delay care often allowing their condition to go undiagnosed and treated, to the point that nothing can be done.

Knowing when and why to go the to the Emergency Room can save your life. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) you should go the nearest ER when you are experiencing any of the following warning signs:

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Chest pain or pressure

Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness

Changes in vision

Confusion or changes in mental status

Sudden or severe pain

Uncontrolled bleeding

Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea

Coughing or vomiting blood

Suicidal feelings

Difficulty speaking

Shortness of breath

Unusual abdominal pain or pressure.

Suing a Florida Emergency Room Hospital, Doctor or Nurse

Not only can going to the ER early save your life, but it can also save your legal rights if the ER makes a mistake. As a lawyer who sues Broward emergency rooms for misdiagnosing strokes, embolisms and heart attacks. Hospitals routinely defend these cases by blaming the patient for not having sought medical treatment sooner.

Every Florida medical malpractice case against a doctor, hospital or emergency room requires that the claimant prove three things:

1. Negligence (medical mistake).

2. Causation (did they actually cause a problem, injury or death).

3. Damages, (harm the mistake caused).

The “Dead Man Walking” defense basically claims that whatever mistake the hospital, doctor, or nurses made; it did not change the patient’s ultimate outcome. This is a very effective argument, especially in cases that involve clear medical mistakes and indisputable injuries, such as birth injuries and brain damage.

Florida Statute Section 768.13, is known as the Good Samaritan Doctrine. It makes suing a Florida emergency room more difficult for patients than any other medical malpractice case. The “Good Samaritan Doctrine” provides protection to emergency room doctors and nurses from being sued unless it can be shown that the care was not just negligent but reckless. This elevated standard of proof, eliminates claims for mere medical errors even when the mistake hurts or kills a Miami hospital patient.