Nobody likes to wait or be kept waiting. An expectation of timely service exists at the core of almost any business. For medical professionals, delays go beyond bad service and enter into the realm of medical malpractice.
Even with medical services being slammed by overlapping issues such as natural disasters, an ongoing pandemic, and dwindling supplies the standard of care offered by a facility or office matters. When a doctor is unable to provide adequate treatment in a timely manner, they have a responsibility to redirect patients to adequate facilities.
Even emergency services must operate within these restrictions. The exception being a lack of availability which results in specialized triage plans. A facility then has a responsibility to announce that they are using triage as their determination of care.
Delayed Emergency Treatment
The existence of triage places a ceiling on emergency rooms and hospitals in general. Nobody said it was easy to be a medical professional. However, knowing when to admit that resources are stretched too thin is about helping the patients.
When treatment is delayed in an emergency setting two questions are considered: 1) was there a duty held by someone, 2) did negligence of this duty cause harm?
A doctor that gets lost in an influx of patients in an ER certainly has some sympathy for not getting to everyone, however, it is their responsibility to know when they’ve seen too many people.
The hospital may also be held accountable if it was aware of the influx numbers and failed to direct visitors elsewhere or announce triage plans.
Time and availability aren’t the only causes of delays in the medical world. In some instances, doctors adopt a ‘wait and see’ view that can cost patients.
Doing nothing can cost precious time and result in what is known as ‘loss of a chance’. Essentially, this covers areas where time sensitive conditions progress beyond the stage where they can be helped even if there were only a small chance that recovery would be possible.
A delay in diagnosis results in a delay in treatment. But a diagnosis that is delayed by an unwillingness to arrive at a false conclusion is no different than any other inaction.
Unreasonableness in Medical Malpractice
This brings up the question of unreasonable standards and expectations. Doctors are forced to contend with difficult questions and to do so in time crunch.
Every set of situations changes the possible outcomes. For this reason, the idea of reasonable duty exists. What does a doctor need to do and how reasonable were their actions given the information at hand?
Current figures for hospital ER visits indicate a reluctance to even visit a hospital. This has led to a spike of 42% of patients facing serious complications from not seeking treatment.
The medical industry needs to do more to make clear the risks of seeking, and not seeking, treatment.
With so many negative factors effecting health right now, it’s important to not risk delays in treatment. If you’re worried that an injury or death was caused by a delay in treatment or diagnosis, regardless of the circumstances, seek help in understanding if it was medical malpractice.
Contact us for support and questions to learn more about your options. We’re always here to help.