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Triage Errors

Upstate New York Law Firm for ER Malpractice

Doctors in emergency rooms are supposed to treat the patient who has the most serious or life-threatening problems before the others. Generally, this means that a patient with a possible traumatic brain injury or impending heart attack would need to be treated before a patient who sprained her ankle. The process by which staff determine whose injuries demand immediate treatment is called triage. When triage is not performed correctly, a patient can sustain severe, even permanent harm. This makes it vital for personnel to make accurate, smart assessments about potential harms to make sure that patients who need it are treated in a timely fashion. If you were harmed or a loved one was killed due to a triage error, you should discuss your situation with the aggressive Syracuse emergency room malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. We aim for the best outcome for those who suffered as the result of a doctor, nurse, or staff member’s errors.

Triage Errors in Upstate New York ERs

Hospitals use triage to identify which patients need care right away. The process also assigns patients to pre-designated locations for care. Typically, when you come into the ER conscious, a trained emergency nurse in Syracuse conducts triage by interviewing you about your illness or injury. You should be physically assessed, and your vital signs should be taken. The nurse or other ER staff member should ask you about any medications or allergies. This first interview is crucial to your outcome. Triage also occurs when a patient comes in unconscious.

In the course of triage, staff members will classify your injuries as immediate, urgent, delayed, or expectant by evaluating complex, interrelated factors. Your injuries will be classified as immediate when life-saving medical care is required right away. Your injuries will be classified as urgent if they demand significant interventions as soon as possible. You may be classified as needing an intervention, but not urgently. In some cases, patients are identified as having a poor chance of survival and need substantial resources and, therefore, further resuscitation is delayed.


Not every triage error constitutes medical malpractice. We should be able to establish liability for a triage error by showing it is more likely than not: (1) you were owed a professional standard of care by the defendant, (2) breach of the professional standard of care, (3) causation, and (4) damages arising out of the breach.

Breach of the professional standard of care follows the locality rule in New York. Our attorneys will need to show that the health care provider who conducted triage in your case or your loved one’s case, failed to abide by the professional standard of care that reasonably competent providers in the same specialty in Syracuse ERs would have followed.

When you’re seeking treatment in the ER, your triage interview may be interrupted for many different reasons. These interruptions can cause distractions that can result in you not getting into the treatment area or distract a nurse from gathering necessary information to make sure you’re classified appropriate. Errors may occur, for instance, in the classification stage of triage. Perhaps when you came in, a nurse didn’t ask you the right questions to figure out what symptoms you were experiencing. Or perhaps a staff member assumed you didn’t need to be seen because even though you had suffered a head injury you weren’t visible bleeding, but you had an internal brain bleed.

When triage is incomplete or inaccurate, there may be delays that compromise the outcome. Additionally, when you came in, diagnostic and therapeutic measures should have been initiated on you as appropriate based on the classification.

In some instances, errors are made in which diagnostic or therapeutic measures are taken due to negligent miscommunications between ER staff during and after triage. For instance, if the wrong triage tag was placed on your mother, her treatment may have been delayed such that she suffered a wrongful death.

Damages From Triage Errors

If you go to the ER, you likely hope to be treated right away and with appropriate medical attention. Unfortunately, because emergency rooms are chaotic and sometimes understaffed, as well, serious harm can arise as the result of a triage error, even a simple one. Failures in prioritization can result in serious complications or deaths. When we are able to establish liability against one or more defendants, we should be able to secure a damages award. In most cases, triage errors give rise to compensatory damages when our lawyers are able to prove it’s more likely than not there was medical malpractice. Compensatory damages are intended to make up for economic and noneconomic losses.

Hire Syracuse Trial Lawyers to Represent You After ER Malpractice

If you were harmed as the result of a triage error in Syracuse or elsewhere in Upstate New York, you should call our skillful trial attorneys. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, we represent clients in Lowville, Rochester, Auburn, Watertown, Herkimer, Oswego, Wampsville, Canandaigua, Lyons, Ithaca, Cooperstown, Oneida, Utica, Binghamton, and Elmira. Complete our online form or call us at 833-200-2000.

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"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
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