Most hospital malpractice cases allege negligence against one or more physicians. Hospitals, treatment centers, residential care facilities, and nursing homes can be held liable for a patient’s damages under a wide range of circumstances, including:
- Medical records errors
- Patient neglect or abuse
- Injuries or deaths attributed to miscommunication between doctors and nurses
- Negligent failure of a nurse to report changes in vital signs after surgery or treatment
- Prescription and medication errors related to a nurse’s performance
- Negligent care in postoperative treatment
- Infections acquired during a hospital stay
- Injuries caused by defective or misused medical equipment
- Patient neglect in intensive care units
It is important to establish liability against hospitals for medical negligence. Some hospitals employ nurses in highly specialized capacities, such as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives or psychiatric nurses. Our law firm knows how to establish both the fact of malpractice on the part of these professionals and prove the damages that result from the mistakes.
Sometimes legal issues related to employer-employee relationships, the defined scope of an employment relationship, or the existence of an independent contractor arrangement as opposed to employment will complicate the liability of a hospital for the professional errors of a nurse or technician. McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt’s experience with anticipating and resolving these complications represents a significant advantage for the firm’s medical malpractice clients.
Although hospitals are often responsible for any insufficient care that their employees provide, meaning official staff like nurses and medical technicians, it’s important to understand that doctors aren’t necessarily staffed the same way. This means that the hospitals often can’t be held liable for any medical negligence on the part of the doctor.
How Can Hospitals “Dodge” A Medical Malpractice Case?
There are a number of situations in which a hospital may or may not be responsible for malpractice on the part of care providers like staffed employees, anesthesia technicians, and doctors. In general, legal doctrine holds that an organization or other entity can be held responsible for the wrongdoing of their agents when those agents are operating on behalf of that entity. Basically, this means that a company can be held responsible for the actions of their employees.
In the case of medical malpractice, if the employee of a hospital acts negligently, then that hospital can usually be held liable for the injuries they cause. Patients injured in the hospital can bring a medical malpractice case against them to get compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain.
When Are Doctors Liable For Injuries in Hospitals?
So when are hospital staff actually employees, meaning the hospital is liable? Usually, hospital staff like support staff, nurses, and medical technicians are employees and their actions can be pinned on the hospital as long as they were operating within the duties of their jobs. However, while it’s kind of counterintuitive, doctors and other specialists are often private contractors, meaning that they’re not technically an employee of the hospital, but instead share a business agreement.
If a doctor is a private contractor rather than explicitly an employee of the hospital, that can make it much more difficult to hold the hospital liable. To take that a step further, if a hospital staffer that is an employee acts negligently, but does so under the direction of a doctor that is independently employed, then the hospital may still not be able to be held accountable depending on the level of control that the doctor was exerting in the situation.
When Can Hospitals Be Held Liable Regardless of a Doctor’s Employment Status?
Fortunately, there are some cases in which hospitals may be held liable regardless of the doctor’s employment status. There are several states in which the hospital can be held responsible if they give staff privileges to doctors that are incompetent or dangerous, or if they should have been aware that the doctor was dangerous.
As you can see, the rules around liability can be very complicated. Determining who is liable for your injuries requires a detailed investigation.
If you need to learn about your legal options in a case of hospital negligence largely attributable to a nurse or other hospital employee, or for additional information about your legal right to recover damages in cases of hospital negligence, discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Don’t hesitate to contact our team of lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt today by filling out our form or calling 1-800-590-4116. We are hard-working lawyers for hard-working people.