How Much is My Emergency Room Malpractice Case Worth?
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 malpractice lawyers 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 is approximately $362,000. 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 that 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.
- 2018 Illinois, $12,000,000 verdict: The plaintiffs sued after their mother died of lung cancer. The gist of their lawsuit was that the defendants, which included the emergency room doctors and specialists, negligently failed to detect lung cancer even though there were several opportunities to do so. As a result, the mother went through extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment but ultimately passed away from her condition months after the diagnosis. The evidence disclosed that the decedent visited the emergency room with signs and symptoms consistent with pneumonia. The emergency department physician ordered a chest X-ray which was negative for pneumonia and the patient was sent home. The plaintiff contended that approximately one hour later, the radiologist detected an abnormality on the X-ray and asserted that the radiologist should have ordered a CT-scan, which would have diagnosed lung cancer while it was contained within the lung and curable. The plaintiff further asserted that the emergency room physician should have followed up with the radiologist. The emergency room physician maintained that he was never told by the radiologist of the abnormality. The radiologist claimed that he wrote to the emergency room physician and described the abnormality. The plaintiff contended that if diagnosed shortly after the emergency room visit, the cancer clearly would have been a stage 1 tumor which could have been curable through surgery and perhaps some adjuvant treatment. The plaintiff also maintained that although almost a year elapsed before the decedent saw the second primary care physician, the cancer probably could have still been successfully treated, pointing to the absence of symptoms. By the time the decedent received the cancer diagnosis, it had already metastasized to the point where it no longer could be cured. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded them with $12,000,000.
- 2018 Ohio, $1,900,000 verdict: This case involved a woman who went to the emergency room for severe pain and died from a pulmonary embolism shortly after being discharged. The plaintiff contended that when the decedent's mother brought her to the emergency room for leg and buttock pain that had been present for approximately one week which became more severe and the patient developed shortness of breath, the defendant emergency room physician negligently failed to include DVT within the differential diagnosis. The decedent died from a pulmonary embolism five hours after she was discharged. The mother brought the decedent to the emergency room when the decedent complained of particularly severe pain and shortness of breath. She was kept in the E.R. for slightly more than one hour and was discharged with a diagnosis of sciatica. She died from a pulmonary embolism approximately five hours later. The plaintiff asserted that in addition to the history of leg pain and the onset of shortness of breath, risk factors, which included taking birth control medication and obesity, clearly should have prompted the inclusion of DVT within the differential diagnosis. The plaintiff asserted that if this condition was included within the differential diagnosis, it would have prompted testing that would have led to the correct diagnosis and the administration of anti-coagulants, preventing the death. The jury believed there was evidence of medical malpractice and awarded the plaintiff with $1,900,000.
- 2018 Florida, $456,000 verdict: The plaintiffs in this case were suing on behalf of their relative who died from a brain bleed. This wrongful death/medical malpractice action was tried against an emergency room physician, the company which employed them, and the hospital where the decedent was treated. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant physician negligently failed to order a CT-scan of the brain following the decedent's fall and, therefore, failed to diagnose the brain bleed which eventually led to her death. The defendants maintained that the decedent suffered a spontaneous brain hemorrhage which did not occur until after she was discharged from the emergency room. Evidence showed that the decedent presented to the emergency room with complaints of left knee pain and facial injuries following a fall. She was seen by the defendant emergency room physician who discharged her with instructions to follow-up with a dentist and her primary care physician. The defendant did not order a CT-scan of the head. Two hours after the discharge, the decedent returned to the emergency room after vomiting and experiencing altered mental status. She was diagnosed with a closed-head injury with resulting subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, infarcts and clots in the brain and a brain herniation. A right craniotomy was performed with tracheostomy placement. The decedent was discharged with brain damage for long-term care at another facility where she required 24-hour care. She died 16 months later, from what the plaintiff alleged were complications of the defendant's malpractice. The plaintiff's experts testified that the defendant emergency room physician failed to analyze facial swelling and other signs of head trauma and fell below the required standard in not ordering a CT-scan of the decedent's head. Such a scan which would have diagnosed the decedent's brain bleed earlier and allowed successful medical intervention, according to the plaintiff's claims. The defense maintained that a CT-scan at the time of the initial presentation would not have detected the condition. The defense also argued that the decedent had a very limited life expectancy. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff and rewarded them with $465,000
- 2017 Oregon, $1,500,000 verdict: A wrongful death action was brought for the death of an adult female college student from meningococcemia on the same day that the emergency room of defendant allegedly evaluated her for complaints of a fever over 103 degrees, chills, shaking, anxiety, low back pain, and body aches. According to the estate, the defendant discharged the decedent from the emergency room after giving her two doses of Tylenol. The decedent's roommates allegedly found her unconscious in her dormitory around noon later the same day. The estate claimed at the time the physician treated the decedent, the defendant was aware of an ongoing outbreak of meningococcemia that had affected at least three other students at the decedent's college. The estate claimed the defendant was negligent for failing to consider that the decedent was suffering from meningococcemia, discharging her from the emergency room prior to ruling out meningococcemia, failing to perform and review a complete blood count before discharging her, failing to draw and review blood cultures, failing to begin antibiotic medications, and failing to have a protocol of clinical care guidelines for evaluating college students presenting with fever and flu-like symptoms during a known outbreak of meningococcemia. The defendant denied liability and claimed that its emergency room physician ordered lab tests and medications, the lab results were unremarkable, and the decedent's condition improved with treatment. The jury found the defendant's negligence was a cause of injury and awarded the plaintiff $500,000 for economic damages and $1,000,000 for noneconomic damages.
- 2017, Louisiana $347,000 verdict: The plaintiff reportedly suffered a ruptured appendix that required her to undergo an emergency open appendectomy, and suffered subsequent complications to the surgery, which included pulmonary collapse that required her to undergo oxygenation, post-surgical necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and pneumonia after she was seen by the defendant, an emergency care pediatrician at a hospital emergency room. The plaintiff contended that the defendant had breached the applicable standard of care in treating the patient by failing to diagnose her appendicitis and instead diagnosing her with gastroenteritis. After being diagnosed, she was discharged from the hospital. The plaintiff also contended that the defendant had failed to conduct appropriate diagnostic testing that could have properly diagnosed appendicitis, which included imaging studies, and failed to perform a follow-up comprehensive physical examination of the patient prior to her discharge, despite the defendant's discovering several abnormal clinical findings during his initial medical examination of the patient. The defendant denied liability and contended that he had met the applicable standard of care in providing the patient with medical treatment. The defendant contended that at the plaintiff’s initial emergency room visit, imaging studies, such as ultrasounds and/or CT scans, were not warranted because the plaintiff’s condition had improved after he had initially assessed her in the emergency room. The jury reached a verdict for the plaintiffs and awarded the plaintiff with $347,000.
- 2017 Pennsylvania $295,000 verdict: A patient suffered a brain injury resulting in neurological, cognitive, speech and memory deficits after suffering a seizure shortly after two separate visits to an emergency room where she was seen first by the defendants. According to the plaintiff, on her first visit, a few weeks after she was involved in a motor vehicle accident, she presented with symptoms of headache, difficulty concentrating, abnormal lip-smacking, and anxiety but was discharged from the emergency room by the defendant without a diagnosis. Two weeks later, she went to the emergency room with complaints of confusion, headaches, and difficulty sleeping when she was again discharged without a diagnosis. She suffered a catastrophic seizure at home the next day. The plaintiff alleged the defendants were negligent in failing to appreciate her complaints, failing to properly evaluate and examine her, failing to order proper tests or consultations, failing to admit her to the hospital for observation and treatment, and causing a delay in diagnosis. The plaintiff also filed a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The defendants disputed the allegations, arguing the plaintiff had preexisting autoimmune encephalitis that was gradually symptomatic and that she was referred to a neurologist but she did not follow up with the appropriate specialist. Further, the defendants argued the plaintiff’s claim about emotional distress should be dismissed as he did not witness the alleged negligence of the defendants. The plaintiff was awarded $295,000 for damages and emotional distress.
- 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.
- 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.
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.More Information on Emergency Room Malpractice Claims in Maryland
- Example of a lawsuit against an emergency department filed in 2018 in Montgomery County, Maryland
- Day-in-the-life video of one of our clients. Get a close-up look at what emergency room malpractice can do.
- Sample emergency room malpractice case filed in Maryland
- Premature discharge from hospital/ER case
- More ED error litigation statistics
- Find an ER doctor to serve as your expert
- More Information (free consultation with a Maryland attorney at 800-553-8082 or get a free Internet consultation)