How long is too long to wait for medical attention in an emergency room?

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man looking at wall clockUnfortunately, we can’t give you a precise time when an emergency room wait crosses the line from frustrating to negligent. An hour wait, for example, for two patients at the same emergency room could be frustrating for both patients, but is not necessarily emergency room negligence for both of them.

Many Factors to Consider

When you think about whether your wait for emergency room treatment was too long, we encourage you to think about whether the delay was reasonable considering:

  • The emergency room’s size and staffing. Before deciding if your wait time was reasonable, you need to know more about the capacity of the emergency room and how many staff members were available when you were there.
  • The other patients in the emergency room. The order in which you should be seen depends not only on your medical condition but also on the symptoms of other patients in the emergency room at the same time. For example, if other people in the emergency room present with potentially dangerous conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, or aneurysms, then it could affect your wait time.
  • Your symptoms. Emergency room staff have a responsibility to triage patients. That means that if you exhibit signs of a medical emergency and prompt treatment is needed to save your life or prevent lifelong disability, you should be seen before someone with a less immediate medical need.
  • Training of emergency room intake staff. Triage is a difficult process, and emergency room intake staff must be appropriately trained on how to do it.
  • Compliance with emergency room procedures. Emergency rooms should have procedures for intake, diagnosis, and treatment. You need to know what those procedures are and if they were followed in your case.

After reviewing the considerations above, you may still wonder whether you waited too long for your emergency room care.

Our experienced delay-in-treatment lawyers will gather and analyze all of the relevant evidence in your case and provide you with the information you need to decide whether to pursue a legal claim against the emergency room. If you were hurt by what you think may have been an unreasonable delay, please call us today and let us find out if your ER wait was long enough to be considered medical malpractice.

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