How Much is My Emergency Room Malpractice Case Worth?

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The only way to really know the value of your case is to have a lawyer collect all of the records, retain the appropriate experts, and come up with a value based on experience as to what the settlement or trial value of your case should be.

Here, we provide statistics and sample verdicts and settlements in emergency room malpractice cases in Maryland and around the country. These statistics can inform lawyer and victims as to the value of their case. But, it has to be said, use these valuation tools with caution. The value of one case does not necessarily mean that a similar case will have a similar result. No two claims are alike, and the differences are sometimes hard to see with the naked eye.

But you have to start somewhere. These statistics and sample cases give you a step toward better understanding the range of value of your claim.

Statistics on the Value of Emergency Room Malpractice Cases
  • The average payout for all emergency medicine claims is $330,000. This is right in line with the medical specialties average of $325,000.
  • The average settlement or verdict in emergency room malpractice misdiagnosis cases in 2013 was approximately $362,000, down from 383,000 in 2012. Keep in mind these are payments made by the doctor or, more likely, the malpractice insurer. In 70% of the cases, the doctor gets out of the case on summary judgment, motion to dismiss, or is voluntarily released from the suit. (This statistic is a little misleading. ER doctors are often named in cases because the suit is being filed too close to the statute of limitations so the plaintiffs' attorneys want to make sure tha other defendants are going to blame the emergency room doctors.) Misdiagnosis cases are the most common ER mistake claims.
  • Acute myocardial infarction emergency room physician malpractice cases that resulted in compensation averaged about $383,000. These are the second most common emergency healthcare provider negligence claims.
  • One medical insurer estimates that in 2014, there will be 3.73 claims for every 100,000 emergency department visits and that one-third of these claims will result in a settlement or verdict for the plaintiff.
  • The severity of outcome (death and disability) is the most powerful predictor of both whether a claim will be brought and the settlement value of the case.
Settlements and Verdicts Against Hospital Emergency Departments
  • 2015: $3.25 Million. Confidential settlement involving malpractice by both doctors and nurses in the emergency room. This is a Miller & Zois case and, regrettably, the details of the case are confidential.
  • 2015, Maryland: $3,587,687 Verdict: After being involved in an auto accident, a 64 year-old man is transported to Suburban Hospital. Two ER surgeons provide care to the man, and notice that he previously required neck surgery. His initial examination reveals arm pain and right-hand weakness, leading doctors to diagnose him with a muscle strain. A CT scan is also ordered, which shows a fracture of the right pedicle and vertebrae. The man is discharged, but cannot ambulate on his own. In fact, his family has to call an ambulance to transport him back to the hospital. A subsequent MRI reveals that he actually suffered several disc injuries as a result of the initial accident, requiring emergency surgery. Unfortunately, the damage is already done.  The man suffers permanent paralysis of the lower extremities. The man then sues the hospital and the surgeons alleging that the doctors failed to adequately evaluate his condition and that they should have identified the disc injuries on his CT scan. The defendants, on the other hand, suggest that the injury would have happened regardless of their care, or lack thereof. After a 12 day trial, the jury deliberated for 4 hours and found the surgeon and hospital jointly liable for a $3,587,687 verdict.
  • 2014, Maryland: $5.2 Million Verdict. Our law firm, Miller & Zois, LLC, handled this case. Our clients suffered a serious knee injury at work. He went5 to the ER and was diagnosed with a sprain and discharged after approximately two hours. He had a knee dislocation. Two days later his leg was amputated. At trial, we argued that the ER doctors missed his injury to the popliteal artery. The case was tried before a Baltimore City jury who did the right thing and gave a fair award.
  • March 2013, Maryland: $750,000 Settlement: A 56-year-old man arrives at an emergent care facility with sporadic chest pain. The treating physician orders an EKG that reveals abnormal ST depressions. The man is given a copy of the report and told to go to the emergency room for a cardiac evaluation. While in the emergency room, the treating physician orders two additional EKGs and reports them as showing a normal sinus rhythm. He schedules the man for a stress-test the following week and discharges him. Unfortunately, three days later, the man suffers a fatal heart attack. The plaintiff’s estate sues the hospital for medical malpractice, claiming that the emergency room physician’s negligence was the cause of death, as he failed to obtain a cardiology consultation, even with the abnormal EKG report taken hours before. They claim that had the physician done so, and the patient would have been able to make a full recovery. The parties agree to settle before trial for  $750,000.
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  • April 2013, Massachusetts: $1,000,000 Settlement: A 25-year-old woman, 38 weeks pregnant, visits a local emergency room after slipping and falling on a patch of ice earlier that day. The emergency room physician orders a non-stress test. The test results come back normal and the woman is discharged. Two days later, she returns to the emergency room with a low-grade fever and complaints of vomiting and gastrointestinal issues. The treating physician diagnoses her with dehydration, and she is discharged after receiving two liters of IV fluids. Three days pass and she once more arrives at the emergency room. Unfortunately, it is to deliver her stillborn infant. Before she can even begin to comprehend the devastating emotion of losing her new child, she begins to experience respiratory distress and fast heart rate. She is diagnosed with fatty liver of pregnancy, a rare condition that can occur either within a woman’s third trimester or recent postpartum. She is treated in a tertiary care facility for three weeks. The day of her discharge only ends in her returning to the emergency room that evening with complaints of respiratory distress. She is admitted but shortly after that suffers from a full cardiac arrest and consequently dies. The woman’s estate files a medical malpractice suit against the hospital for failing to diagnose timely and treat the fatty liver of pregnancy and for failing to monitor for fetal distress. Plaintiff’s counsel alleges the treating emergency room physician during the woman’s second visit should have ordered an obstetrician consultation and fetal monitoring; according to hospital protocol both are required for any and all pregnancies over 22 weeks. The parties agree to settle before trial for $1,000,000.
  • March 2013, Massachusetts: $4,000,000 Settlement: A 36-year-old female arrives at her obstetrician’s office one week after giving birth to twins. She is complaining of a severe headache and is shortly diagnosed with having mild high blood pressure. That evening her headache has only seemed to grow worse, so she goes to the local emergency room. Diagnostic testing is conducted for elevated blood pressure but fails to disclose any brain pathology. She is discharged home that same evening but is told by the emergency room physician to return to the ER the next morning for further blood pressure testing. That morning she is informed that her blood pressure had slightly subsided and to follow-up with her primary care physician. Unfortunately, even after returning to her primary care physician, she is discharged without further treatment or testing. The headaches only seem to worsen, and she is forced to return once more to the emergency room. Within moments of arriving at the hospital she suffers from a seizure. She is transferred to another hospital after being diagnosed with eclampsia, a seizure condition that is usually pre-diagnosed during pregnancy. While being treated in the second hospital, she is diagnosed with partial paralysis and vasospasm in her brain. Regrettably, she dies soon afterward. The woman’s estate files suit against the emergency department and its physicians for failing to diagnose timely and treat the woman’s postpartum pre-eclampsia. The defendants deny negligence, claiming the condition in question is rare and failed to positively respond to treatment. They claim the woman suffered from postpartum angiopathy, which has similar symptoms. Although the defendants denied negligence, they agree to settle with the plaintiff’s estate for the sum of $4,000,000.
  • January 2013, New York: $1,000,000 Settlement: A 50-year-old employee of the New York City Department of Education is having difficulty breathing and visits the emergency room. It is discovered that he is suffering from congestive heart failure, and he is retaining water in his lungs. Although he is admitted to the hospital, he remains in the emergency room for 2 hours before being transferred to the main part of the hospital. Shortly after being transferred, he suffers from a cardiac arrest and consequently dies. On behalf of his estate, his wife files a medical malpractice suit against the emergency department physician and hospital for failing to timely treat her husband’s respiratory failure. Plaintiff’s expert cardiologist testifies that the man should have been intubated and that had they done so, the man would have likely survived. He also states that the defendants should have placed the man on emergency dialysis to remove the water from his lungs. The defendants deny that they were responsible for the man’s death, claiming that he suffered from multiple medical conditions such as diabetes and coronary artery disease. They claim these conditions were the ultimate cause of the man’s death. They also argue that there was no reason to intubate him before his transfer. The case proceeds to trial, and during the jury deliberations, the parties come to a high/low agreement with a low of $150,000 and a high of $1,000,000. The jury awards the plaintiff $1,233,932, resulting in the parties settling for $1,000,000.
  • December 2012, California: $4,800,000 Settlement: A 51-year-old cashier visits her primary care physician complaining of severe, abdominal tenderness. She has a history of clotting and requires morphine while being treated by her physician. Her doctor advises the woman to go through a series of treatments with a gastroenterologist for the next two weeks. The physician and the gastroenterologist eventually come up with differential diagnoses of either a peptic ulcer or irritable bowel syndrome. During her treatment she chooses to go to the emergency room a total of five times; four of the five times she is discharged with severe abdominal pain of an unknown origin. During her fifth visit, she is seen by a physician who immediately orders a CT scan that shows a clot in the abdominal aorta. Twenty hours pass after the hospital’s vascular and general surgeons were contacted STAT, and surgery is conducted. The timing of the operation came somewhat too late as the woman suffers ischemic damage to multiple organs. Since the initial surgery, she has had parts of her liver, pancreas, and small bowel removed as well as her entire spleen. She is now at risk of rejecting her transplanted organ and will require consistent follow up with physicians to monitor her condition. She brings suit against the two emergency room physicians who treated her during her first four visits, their emergency room group, the hospital, and the hospital’s vascular and general surgeons who were contacted during her fifth visit for failing to diagnose timely and treat the woman. Plaintiff’s counsel claims the physicians were aware of the patient’s history of clotting and should have immediately ordered a CT scan. They also allege the surgeons failed to operate timely on the patient. Defense counsel argues that the physicians were unaware of the plaintiff’s clotting history and did as they were told: to triage, stabilize, and refer the woman to her primary physician for care. They also argued by the time the surgeons received the referral, the ischemic damage had already been done. Although the defendants deny the plaintiff’s allegations, they choose to settle with the plaintiff for $4,800,000.
  • June 2012, Massachusetts: $150,000 Settlement: A 12-year-old girl is suffering from abdominal pain and vomiting. She is taken to a local emergency room where she is diagnosed with constipation and discharged. Two days later, her pain has only increased and made it unbearable for her to walk. She returns to the emergency room where this time they give her a CT scan. The scan reveals a ruptured appendix. A laparoscopic appendectomy is performed, and she begins treatment in the pediatric department. During treatment she develops an intestinal obstruction, methemoglobinemia, cyanosis, and acute respiratory distress. Shortly after that, she is transferred to a second hospital for further evaluation. During her treatment there she develops peritonitis as well as multiple abdominal abscesses that require several drainage procedures. This multitude of post-surgery complications not only leaves the young girl in the hospital for 11 days, but she will forever be at risk for small bowel obstructions, which could lead to infertility. She brings suit against the emergency room physician who treated her during her initial visit for failing to perform appropriate testing to coincide with her symptoms that were consistent with acute appendicitis. Plaintiff’s counsel alleges the delay in diagnosis led to her ruptured appendix, which ultimately led to post-surgical complications. The defendant denies all liability but agrees to a settlement of $150,000.
What Do I Do If I Have Been The Victim of Emergency Room Malpractice?

Our malpractice attorneys are experienced at identifying the appropriate strategies to maximize the value of these cases. If we accept your case, our primary goal is obtaining maximum compensation for our clients.

If you have been the victim of negligence at a hospital's emergency department or have lost a loved one from a medical mistake, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at 1.800.553.8082, or online for a free consultation. You will never pay any fees or costs unless we can obtain money damages for you by settlement or at trial.

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