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Medical Malpractice and EMTALA claim: Possible Double Recovery

Failure to do ultrasound in ERs leads to state medical malpractice claim and Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) claim.

In this article we discuss a case our office is handling and how two hospitals’ actions led to both a state medical malpractice claim and also an EMTALA claim. Our client, a young woman from Northeast Ohio, was pregnant. She went to the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain. The ER doctor looked at this patient, who had a previous drug history, was a Medicaid patient, and was boisterous with ER staff according to their medical notes. The emergency room doctor did not take her complaints seriously. No ultrasound was done. Our client was sent home. She came back later and again was not given an ultrasound and her complaints were ignored.

She then went to a second hospital and was treated the same. No examination of baby. Her baby drown in blood in eutero and died. We filed a medical malpractice claim against the doctors and first hospital and immediately settled with them for seven figures, perhaps because they were afraid of an EMTALA claim and the federal government involvement that often comes with it.

We filed an EMTALA claim against the second hospital whose emergency room staff failed to do an ultrasound. Under EMTALA, the emergency room has an obligation to do a medical screening examination (MSE) to look for emergency medical conditions (EMC). Here, our client asked for a medical evaluation and the second emergency room failed to conduct a medical screening examination. As a direct result of their decision to not do the medical screening examination, our client’s emergency medical condition was not discovered and our client’s baby died.

As we move forward with the EMTALA lawsuit, we do not have any caps on pain and suffering and expect to collect considerable more from on the EMTALA claim than we did on the state medical malpractice claim.

When you hire a medical malpractice attorney, it is important that he or she is familiar with EMTALA. EMTALA was designed specifically to protect patients like our client who are denied appropriate medical screening for no good reason, usually based on financial or socio-economic bias.

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