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April 1, 2012

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  • Biggest Legal Risk Is Delayed Treatment, Not Parental Consent

    If a boy is brought to an emergency department after being injured in an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accident while at a friend's house, do triage nurses wait to get in touch with the parents before treating him?
  • If Parent Refuses Treatment, Act in Child's Best Interest

    If a parent objects to a medical evaluation or treatment of a child with a potentially life-threatening emergency, due to religious beliefs or any other reason, says Kevin M. Klauer, DO, EJD, FACEP, chief medical officer of Emergency Medicine Physicians in Canton, OH, the emergency physician (EP) can get a court order to get the child treated.
  • Unrealistic ED Policies? Lawsuits Will Follow

    If a lawsuit is filed alleging malpractice in your ED, the only thing worse for your defense than not having a policy covering an important subject might be having one but failing to adhere to it.
  • Don't Invite Lawsuits With Too-specific ED Policies

    An ED's policy may state that reassessments should occur every 30 minutes, or that EKGs should be given within 10 minutes of the patient's arrival, but there will always be circumstances in which these timeframes aren't met.
  • Policy Not Followed? Explain Reason Why

    Ryan R. Domengeaux, JD, vice president of risk management at Schumacher Group in Lafayette, LA, says, "Policies and procedures are not only driven by statutory requirements, they are also necessary to memorialize service expectations."
  • Bad Outcome in Waiting Room? Defense Is Difficult

    Jurors might be able to understand the fact that patients can't always be treated immediately in a busy ED, particularly if a plaintiff didn't have obviously life-threatening symptoms at the time.
  • Reassess Boarders, or Risk Bad Outcomes and Lawsuits

    Even though the admission handoff has occurred, the "boarded" ED patient is often still managed by the admitting emergency physician (EP) or another ED attending physician many hours after the shift has ended, warns Uwe G. Goehlert, MD, MPH, an ED attending physician at Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, VT, and principal of Goehlert & Associates in South Burlington, VT.
  • Battle of the Experts: Be Truthful and Direct

    When experts on either side of a lawsuit alleging ED malpractice make misleading or false statements, this reflects badly on the whole legal system, according to Ken Zafren, MD, FAAEM, FACEP, FAWM, EMS medical director for the state of Alaska and clinical associate professor in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Stanford (CA) University Medical Center.