With the number of patients suffering due to the errors and negligence of healthcare providers increasing, medical malpractice litigation is getting more attention these days. The law does not only covers doctors but healthcare providers like physical therapists and nurses as well. However, you can even hold a hospital liable for malpractice or negligence in some cases. But the stakes get higher for both, the hospitals and victims in this situation. Since you will probably be facing an organization rather than an individual in such claims, there is a need to understand the complexities and start only after a good research.
Is a hospital liable for the negligence of its employees?
First things first, negligence or malpractice is an act of a human rather than an organization. So you would want to know if you can hold a hospital responsible for the negligence of its employees. The legal concept of vicarious liability states that an employer is liable for the negligent acts of employees, which include physicians, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, and other health care providers in this case. The hospital will certainly be liable if the provider responsible for malpractice was employed by it and was completing his or her work-related duties. The medical errors for which the hospital could be implicated include:
- Failure to monitor a patient
- Failure to consult their records for important information
- Failure to take their vital signs when appropriate
- Administration of wrong medication or dose
- Improper diagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Not responding to a patient’s call
- Not checking a bedridden patient for bedsores
What if the negligent provider is not a hospital employee?
In some instances, the doctor who is negligent may be an independent contractor rather than an employee. This may put the hospital off the hook even when the malpractice occurred at their facility. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you determine the liability in this situation. The decision depends on the extent of control that the organization had over the professional. In fact, you can sue the hospital of there is still an employment relationship with the negligent provider, which depends on these factors:
- The hospital decides the fees of the doctor
- It controls the working hours of the provider
- It also has control over their job conditions
When is the hospital itself liable for negligence?
In some situations, the medical facility may be directly responsible for a negligent act and proving liability is pretty straightforward. Rather than a healthcare provider being involved, the negligence is attributed to lack of proper administration by the facility in these cases. Your lawyer may easily do it by proving any of the following:
- Negligent hiring whereby a hospital fails to hire qualified providers who are capable of performing their work duties properly, have a favorable track record and background and possess relevant licenses and credentials
- Failing to discontinue the services of incompetent healthcare providers who do not have the requisite skills or cannot perform their work duties competently
- Understaffing which puts the patients at risk as there are not enough people to provide them requisite medical care as and when needed
Establishing liability for medical malpractice is complex and requires in-depth investigation and legal expertise. So you must hire only an expert to handle your case, all the more if you are fighting it out with a hospital.