Georgia Court Discusses Heightened Burden for Plaintiffs in Medical Malpractice Cases Arising in Emergency Settings

Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court released an opinion that discussed the heightened burden plaintiffs face when attempting to prove medical negligence that arises in an emergency setting. In the case, Nguyen v. Southwestern Emergency Physicians, the court determined that Georgia’s “ER Statute,” OCGA § 51-1-29.5, did apply to the specific situation and thus required the plaintiffs to show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant doctors acted with “gross negligence” rather than ordinary negligence.


The facts of the Case

According to the court documents, the plaintiffs in the case were the parents of a young girl who was admitted to the defendant hospital after suffering a fall and developing a bump on her head. The attending physician in the emergency room conducted a three-minute evaluation and then assigned the young girl a priority level of 4, meaning that “if no emergency medicine is applied, this person is not going to die or suffer serious injury.”

The girl was then routed out of the ER and into regular care, where another exam was conducted. After this second exam, the physician determined that the girl was fit for discharge and should return in five days, or if she began vomiting or her symptoms worsened



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