In Oregon, there are many instances where patients do not receive reasonably competent medical care in a hospital's emergency room. Such facilities are often overcrowded, poorly staffed, and operated by over-worked and tired staff. With a high volume of traffic, many mistakes occur within the context of emergency room service. Where the level of care falls below the minimum standard required under the circumstances, and where that negligence causes serious injury or death, the hospital will be liable for medical malpractice.
It is sometimes held that emergency room care must be proved by clear evidence that shows more than just simple negligence. However, in Oregon, where a clear-cut mistake is made and supported by sufficient evidence of negligence and causation, liability will generally apply for serious injuries and death occurring in an emergency room. In one unusual claim of medical malpractice, a widow is suing two New York hospitals because the emergency room doctor declared her husband dead when he was still alive, according to the complaint.
Her husband had a heart attack and was transported to the emergency room of defendant hospital. When the patient's wife arrived she was told that her husband was dead, but she alleges that he made eye contact with her and that he moved his arm to gesture and try to hug her. The complaint alleges that the doctor had not taken the patient's vital signs until two hours after declaring him dead. He allegedly told the wife that the movements were normal because at age 46, the patient had a "lot of life to expel out of his body."
Eventually, the doctor allegedly came in and took the patient's pulse, and stated that "…my God, he's got a pulse." The patient was transferred to another hospital the next morning where he was declared dead for a second time, because by that time it was allegedly too late to save him. The patient could have likely survived if given prompt and correct attention, according to the suit. Under Oregon medical malpractice standards, if these allegations were proved, liability would likely be found in favor of the plaintiff.
Source: wgrz.com, "Widow Files Medical Malpractice Suit After Husband Dies Twice", Kelly Dudzik, Oct. 14, 2015