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Personal Injury Lawyer
Medical mistakes can lead to patient harm. If you were injured in the course of your treatment for an illness or injury, you want to hold the responsible parties accountable. This may include the doctor, but what about the hospital at which he or she was working?
The answer is less than straightforward. A hospital’s liability for a physician’s mistake largely depends on the relationship between the doctor and the hospital.
Sometimes the hospital hires the doctor as an employee. If this is the case, the legal principle of respondeat superior may apply. According to this principle, if an employee was acting within the scope of his or her job duties when committing an act of negligence, the entity responsible for hiring the employee may have to answer for the mistakes of its subordinate. In other words, it may be possible to hold a hospital vicariously liable for negligence on the part of an employee doctor.
However, vicarious liability only applies to those hired as employees of the hospital. Some doctors provide services on an independent contractor basis, an entirely different status. The hospital cannot be held liable for a negligent act committed by an independent contractor.
However, a hospital can be held responsible for its own negligence, which includes staffing matters. For example, hospitals are responsible for keeping adequate numbers of personnel on duty at all times. Administrators also have a responsibility to investigate the credentials of any doctor seeking privileges at their facility and not hiring doctors who lack the necessary competence.
If there are complaints about a doctor or other member of the medical staff, the hospital has a responsibility to look into them. Failure to investigate could be negligence on the hospital’s part for which it could be held liable. Similarly, if hospital administrators have knowledge that a doctor has ordered treatment that is contraindicated for the patient’s condition and fails to inquire into the matter further, the hospital has failed in its duty. Therefore, it may be possible to hold it liable by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
It is worth pointing out that doctors and hospitals are not the only ones that can commit acts of negligence. Nurses, radiologists, anesthesiologists, and other health care providers are also liable for alleged acts of medical malpractice if patients came to harm as a result.
It is an extremely frustrating situation to come to harm because of medical treatment intended to make you feel better. You have the right to be angry, and you have the right to seek justice. Contact an attorney, to discuss your legal options with one of our attorneys.