Wherever there are overworked medical professionals and understaffed hospitals, medical malpractice is more likely to follow. For this reason, COVID-19 surges are dangerous for more than one reason. In regions across the country – from Portland, Oregon to Boise, Idaho to Austin, Texas to Miami, Florida – coronavirus case spikes are filling up medical wards to past the intended occupancy, and incidents of hospital errors are adding up, too.
In intensive care units (ICU) with no empty beds, the resulting hardships are often not experienced by COVID patients. Instead, patients who are hospitalized for other reasons can be overlooked as medical staff members divert their attention to people with COVID, who might be at a more immediate risk of a severe health condition such as respiratory failure.
Medical malpractice incidents that can occur in overcrowded, understaffed wards include:
- Patients who slip and fall while going to the bathroom unattended.
- Patients who soil their beds because they can’t go to the bathroom alone.
- Patients who develop bedsores because no nurses check on them for an entire day.
- Patients who do not get the medication they need because the hospital ran out.
Are Hospitals Liable for COVID-Related Errors?
Many thanks must be given to all the medical professionals who have helped keep our communities safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Yet the truth remains that they must always follow an acceptable standard of care that prioritizes each patient’s health. Similarly, medical institutions, hospital groups, and clinics still must take appropriate steps to ensure that their medical teams are able to deliver this high standard of care. The hospital group could be liable for the medical malpractice that occurs within its halls due to a COVID surge by not doing enough to keep its staff healthy and rested, so there are no large gaps on the employee roster at any given time.
Can Patients Sue for Hospital Negligence?
Lawsuits have been filed against several hospitals across the country by patients and the families of patients who have suffered from negligence while staying in an overcapacity ward due to a COVID surge. The claims mostly seek damages for the patient’s pain and suffering, worsened medical conditions, and furthered hospital bills. It is not clear what will be necessary for those claims to advance, though. Many courts right now are hesitant to hear cases against hospitals and medical professionals who are certainly feeling the stresses of unprecedented patient numbers.
If you think you might have a medical malpractice case to bring against a hospital or medical professional during these trying times, then you should first consult with a medical malpractice attorney. Using their insight and experience, they can let you better understand if you have a valid case worth bringing against the medical provider who caused you harm.
Free consultations with Angel Law, P.C. in Portland are available to inquiring medical malpractice and hospital negligence clients.