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Is an ER Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?

emergency room

Emergency room personnel should give you the best care possible. When they treat your emergency medical needs, they are agreeing to follow safety procedures, protocols, and do everything in their power to give you a correct diagnosis and treat you. But in a fast-paced environment like the emergency room mistakes are more likely to occur, particularly misdiagnosis.

Not every misdiagnosis is grounds for a lawsuit. But if emergency room staff misdiagnosed your medical condition and you were hurt or suffered harm as a result, you could have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

What does medical malpractice look like in an emergency room?


Medical malpractice occurs when a physician deviates from the standard of care and causes a patient harm. The real issue is if they provided you with the same standard of care as another competent physician would have in the same situation.

Common forms of medical malpractice include:

An emergency room misdiagnosis alone is not grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If the misdiagnosis does not cause any lasting harm, you may not have a case on your hands. For example, if you go to the ER complaining of stomach pains, the healthcare staff may diagnose it as a simple stomach ache and send you home with something to ease the pain. If it turns out to be something else such as food poisoning, you will be uncomfortable for a little while but no lasting damage will likely occur. However, if you actually have appendicitis and your appendix bursts, then you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Taking the wrong medication can quickly spell disaster – but again, not every prescription mistake is grounds for a lawsuit. If you experience severe side effects from an incorrect dosage or a medication for a health condition that you do not have, you should check with your primary care physician as soon as possible.

Certain medical conditions can be very difficult to diagnose or prescribe medicine for, especially in a narrow window of time such as one ER visit. ER staff may not be able to do the tests you need, and they can’t offer followup appointments to see how you are responding to medication. But they are required to provide you with the same standard of care that you would receive in any ER.

This is why it is important to have an Indiana medical malpractice attorney examine your case. They can investigate whether your healthcare team performed according to the medical standard of care for ER professionals, and will make sure your case proceeds under correct deadlines.

What damages are included in my Indiana medical malpractice case?


Damages are monetary compensation for your injuries. Typically there are two kinds of compensatory damages you could recover from your medical malpractice case: economic and noneconomic damages.

Economic damages means a set amount that is calculated by monetary losses, such as medical bills. If the negligent party caused more health problems and you needed to seek further treatment, economic damages would cover your mounting healthcare bills. They may also cover the cost of prescriptions, or lost wages if you are unable to work as a result of your injury.

Lost earning capacity is one feature of economic damages. This refers to your quality of life and ability to work following your accident. If someone with a broken leg had their entire career ruined because of the injury, such as a professional dancer, they would likely receive more than someone whose career was largely unaffected by the injury.

Noneconomic damages refers to something that can’t be quantified, such as compensation for pain and suffering. Going through a medical misdiagnosis can be a particularly traumatic event. Nothing can erase the emotional heartache that you may experience, but recovering some compensation can ease the pain a little. Noneconomic damages cover emotional injuries like severe decrease in mental health or loss of enjoyment of life. You can also be awarded damages for pain and suffering from physical affects, such as:

  • Physical pain
  • Loss of function
  • Disfigurement

Noneconomic damages for pain and suffering vary from case to case, even for people with similar injuries. They may also be limited by Indiana laws capping medical malpractice damages.

Your settlement ultimately boils down to your individual circumstances. This is another reason it’s such a good idea to hire a medical malpractice attorney who understands how Indiana medical malpractice caps can affect your claim. Your medical malpractice counsel will fight on your behalf for the best outcome possible.

Help from an Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Lawyer

ER staff members are human, and like all of us, sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes these are minor mistakes, and other times, their mistakes can cause serious long-lasting harm.

If you suspect you are a victim of medical malpractice, it’s a wise idea to consult with an Indiana medical malpractice attorney. Pursuing an emergency room misdiagnosis lawsuit is incredibly complicated. Don’t try to figure it out all on your own.

If you suspect your injuries were the result of medical malpractice, don’t hesitate. Call our offices at Hensley Legal Group or contact us online for a free consultation about your potential case. Your health is our priority.