Medical Malpractice During the Winter Months
The winter months may draw you to the doctor’s office, hospital, or emergency room for any number of reasons. Perhaps the circumstances are outside of your control and you or someone in your family needs urgent medical care after being injured in an accident at your home, on the road, or elsewhere. Or perhaps you had some time off from work during the holiday season and it seemed like an ideal opportunity to undergo an elective procedure that you had been putting off until your schedule allowed. Your child may come down with the flu, pneumonia, or another serious illness; your pediatrician or your family’s local general practitioner is often the one you look to when unsure of the cause of their worrisome symptoms. The potential circumstances that give rise to your need for a medical professional are vast and varied, but one thing remains the same: each of us seeks treatment with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, medical errors, misdiagnoses, procedures gone wrong, and countless other acts of negligence in the area of healthcare happen frequently – even during the “most wonderful time of the year.” When these devastating events do occur, it is crucial to know and understand legal options that you may have to hold doctors and others accountable for the pain they have caused.
Why or there More Injuries and Illnesses during the Winter Months?
There are numerous factors that contribute to the higher incidence of of injuries and illness during the winter months. For example, winter-related accidents are rampant, particularly in the days surrounding major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s. Roadways are highly congested and often dangerous during the holiday season, when thousands of people flock to parties, family gatherings, and travel destinations near and far. The weather makes for more hazardous conditions, as snow, rain, and freezing temperatures cause slippery surfaces and decreased visibility. Beyond the heightened likelihood of motor vehicle accidents caused by winter weather, alcohol consumption has also been linked to more domestic disputes, fights, and drunk driving accidents, which occur more frequently at this time of year.
In addition, children may fall, contract illnesses at school, suffer injuries during youth sporting events, or otherwise need medical care during the months surrounding the holidays. Beyond that, winter inevitably brings with it “flu season” and the spread of serious illnesses in adults, the elderly, and young children alike. Lastly, many people take the opportunity for some much-needed time off to spend time with family and friends, to rest and rejuvenate for the year to come. With this in mind, undergoing an elective procedure when there is time to recuperate may seem like a good idea. All of these factors play a role in the overall rise in patients during winter, particularly in hospitals and emergency rooms.
How do Medical Errors Happen at Winter Time?
Doctor’s offices and hospitals are often understaffed during December and January, leaving fewer people to meet the demands of crowded waiting rooms. In hectic places like emergency rooms, this can prove disastrous for patients. Young, inexperienced doctors may be on-call in the emergency department as more senior physicians book vacations or take off to be with their loved ones. Fewer nurses and staff to support doctors can cause breaks in communication, mistakes with medication, and failure to identify dangerous signs that a patient’s condition is worsening.
Unfortunately, the choice of whether or not to go to the hospital or emergency room may not be up to you in some situations, for example, if you have been injured in a car accident or you go into labor. Labor and delivery errors often happen when conditions like these exist, with potentially catastrophic results for mothers and babies. For instance, critical errors handling dangerous situations like the need for an emergency cesarean delivery or fetal distress can lead to permanent harm and even prove fatal.
Examples of Common Failures in the Hospital or Emergency Room
You may run into medical malpractice in many different ways when being treated for an injury or another condition. Among the many medical mistakes that can permanently affect patients, some of the most common include:
- Mistakes with diagnoses
- Delays in diagnosis or treatment
- Inadequate communication between doctors, nurses, and staff
- Misreading imaging tests or lab results
- Errors prescribing, ordering, or administering medication
- Failure to follow-up with a patient, provide proper instructions, or information about an upcoming procedure
- Missing the signs of a heart attack or stroke
- Discharging a patient too soon
Everyone makes mistakes, but when it comes to the medical professionals that you are relying on, taking proper care can save your life. The opposite is also true – a lesson you may learn all too well when left to suffer the consequences of medical negligence. In fact, one study confirmed that more adults in the United States die when admitted to emergency departments over the weekend, when ED’s are notoriously busier than weekdays.
Medical Negligence Related Injuries in NJ? Talk to a Lawyer Today
Whether a winter accident, injury, or medical condition brought you to the emergency room or physician’s office this winter season, mistakes in your care are unacceptable, especially when you suffer further harm as a result. You may be unfamiliar with New Jersey laws about medical negligence or even unsure if your case amounts to a lawsuit. Fronzuto Law Group is dedicated to serving people like you. Our team of NJ medical malpractice lawyers provides personalized legal guidance and representation to individuals and families throughout New Jersey. We provide free and confidential consultations, so getting answers to your questions is just a phone call or message away. Contact us online or by calling 973-435-4551 for a free evaluation of your case today.
Resource: Sharp AL, Choi H, Hayward RA, Don’t get sick on the weekend: an evaluation of the weekend effect on mortality for patients visiting US EDs, American Journal of American Medicine