While the medicine administered at the scene of an emergency may be the same treatment given in an emergency department, there are different regulations that govern the standard of care and qualifications for taking legal action against a healthcare provider in such a situation. When an emergency calls for immediate medical attention, there are several sets of people who come into contact with the injured person before they are seen by an actual doctor. These individuals are known as first responders and in California, as in most states, they are protected from most lawsuits concerning their administration of medical services.
According to the California Health and Safety Code § 1799.100-112, first responders include four main occupational groups and most are employees of the city. Police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical teams and even some off-scene registered nurses are all exempt from being held liable for any mistakes or injuries that may ensue while they tend to a person in imminent need of medical and emergency attention. This body of law is affectionately known in many states as the Good Samaritan law and is intended to preserve the incentive for both first responders and witnesses standing by to offer help the persons in need without fear of lawsuits. This Good Samaritan law also protects registered nurses that may give instructions to first responders on the scene as to treatment and off-duty doctors who happen to be present at the scene of the emergency and offer their expertise.
While it may be an unfortunate restriction if there is a mistake in the treatment that leads to injury, this provision's advantages are many. The most important benefit that results from the Good Samaritan law is that it preserves community spirit and a society that helps each other with complete surrender. If first responders and other's present at the scene were vulnerable to a lawsuit, it would tremendously affect the quality of care they administer and even their willingness to help in the first place.
There are, however, still some personnel who are expected to provide care to a certain standard regardless of the situation. According to HSC § 1799.102(a), the Good Samaritan law does not protect medical professionals who respond to an emergency in an emergency medicine department or any place where medical care is usually given. This means that doctors and nurses who given emergency medical treatment in the emergency room or at a private practice are expected to exercise a higher standard of care in order to avoid being sued for medical malpractice.
In a medical malpractice claim by a patient who was injured by faulty medical treatment in the emergency room, the same standards of proof apply as any other medical malpractice suit. This means that the patient must first establish that there was a relationship between the doctors or nurse at the time the injury took place. Furthermore, the patient must show that the medical professional named in the suit breached their duty to exercise the expected standard of care for their occupation and that the breach was a direct cause in their injury. Injuries in the emergency room can also be a result of poorly maintained environments or lack of sanitation. If a personal injury attorney is able to determine such a cause for the injury, the hospital or medical center may also be named in the suit as the defendant.
Because of the special provisions and protections involved with emergency medicine malpractice claims, it is important that a personal injury attorney in San Fernando Valley be contacted immediately following the injury. Prompt action will allow the injury attorney to examine the circumstances of the situation and advise on the appropriate course of action. If you need assistance in filing a medical malpractice claim after being injured in an emergency room in San Fernando Valley, contact The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus today and speak with a member of our legal team.