Updated August 23, 2020

Medical Malpractice in Emergency Rooms

If you need urgent medical care, where do you go? The nearest emergency room (ER).

In an emergency, there is no room for error. You expect quick and effective medical care, with attentive staff and clear instructions for what to do when you are discharged. Unfortunately, errors occur—some of which may fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice.

Four Common Emergency Room Errors

Mistakes can be made when medical staff delay medical treatment, ignore hospital policies, improperly discharge patients, or communicate poorly.

Delayed Treatment

A hospital’s ER can easily get overcrowded, leading to a shortage of beds or a lack of available equipment and staff. These conditions can lead to a delay in treatment, with patients being prioritized incorrectly or forced to wait for long periods of time before receiving treatment.

If a small medical issue turns serious without timely treatment, it may constitute malpractice.

Ignored Policies

To save time or to avoid paperwork, medical professionals could cut corners. Ignoring hospital policies and procedures can look like the following:

  • Poor patient monitoring
  • Paperwork errors
  • Contaminated blood transfusions
  • Rushed laboratory results

Such ignored policies could also be the result of a mismanaged ER environment.

Improper Discharge

When patients are discharged from the ER, they should have received the medical care they need as well as instructions for what to do next. Improperly discharged patients might have been misdiagnosed, leading to further health complications, or they may not know how to continue their care.

Additionally, in some cases, an improper discharge could involve the ER medical staff failing to contact a patient’s primary care physician with test results or notification of medical issues.


ER environments are notoriously hectic and busy. Medical staff may be stressed, overworked, and fatigued—leading to oral and written miscommunication errors.

Not listening to, asking about, or properly recording a patient’s medical history and symptoms is one form of miscommunication. Other forms could include hand-off errors when work shifts change as well as mistakes in ordering medication or diagnostic tests.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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