The medical world is often confusing and overwhelming. In situations of medical malpractice, this is especially true. It is not uncommon for hospitals and doctors to attempt to hide their mistakes or convince patients that nothing is wrong. This can make it difficult to determine which individual or entity is responsible for your medical malpractice damages.
To help, we have answered one of the most common questions regarding medical malpractice in the hope that it can help you to see your situation more clearly. When an instance of medical malpractice occurs, leaving you with financial, physical, and emotional consequences, who is responsible for the damages?
Can I Sue the Hospital for a Mistake Made by the Doctor?
Perhaps one of the most confusing aspects of the medical world is the employment status of doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff. In particular, doctors can experience many employment statuses. In some cases, a doctor works independently, or may be contracted by one or more hospitals. In other cases, doctors are employed by the hospital directly. Below is a more detailed explanation of these potential employment statuses and how they affect a medical malpractice claim.
If the doctor is directly employed by the hospital and commits medical malpractice while carrying out the duties of their position, it is possible to sue the hospital for the doctor’s mistake. This also applies to other hospital staff such as registered nurses, technicians, and more. In general, you can discern whether medical personnel are employees by determining whether the hospital sets vacation time, working hours, and medical fees for the personnel in question.
Some doctors are independent contractors. This means that they work within the hospital, but are not employees of that hospital. In cases involving medical malpractice from an independent contractor, you could bring a medical malpractice claim against the doctor, but the hospital would not be liable. An important caveat is whether or not the hospital informed you of the doctor’s employment status. If the doctor is not an employee the hospital must inform you—if you were not notified in writing, the doctor appears to be an employee and the hospital may be liable for their malpractice.
Overseeing Medical Procedures
Another situation in which a doctor might be responsible rather than the hospital is when the doctor is overseeing a procedure that goes wrong. For example, if a nurse is administering an IV under a doctor’s supervision, but does so incorrectly and hurts the patient, the doctor may be responsible. Though the nurse is a hospital employee, the doctor has more training and is obligated to ensure that hospital staff are following the standard of care while under direct supervision.
If a doctor has behaved in a particularly dangerous manner or has a history of negligent behavior, and the hospital continues to employ or contract their work, it is possible to bring a medical malpractice claim. It is important to keep in mind that this rule only applies if you receive injuries caused by the negligent behavior of the doctor. However, it does not matter if the doctor is an independent contractor or employed by the hospital. If a doctor is dangerous, the hospital has the ethical obligation to discontinue their working relationship and can be held liable if their failure to do so results in injury and damages.
Other Hospital Obligations
Though the hospital is not always liable for malpractice, there are certain conditions that any hospital must provide. Failure to do so may enable you to bring a medical malpractice claim against the hospital itself if a negligent action results in injuries and damages. Aside from discontinuing the employment or contract of a dangerous doctor, hospitals must:
- Provide adequate equipment. If you are hurt because the hospital’s equipment was malfunctioning, inoperable, or otherwise unavailable, you may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim against the hospital.
- Be prepared. The hospital is responsible to implement standard procedures or action plans for certain situations. If they fail to prepare for a foreseeable situation and you get hurt, you may be able to bring a malpractice claim.
- Properly staff the hospital. If the hospital is understaffed, professionals are forced to work longer than normal hours. The combination of exhaustion and personal strain is likely to result in mistakes. In other situations, untrained individuals filling positions for which they are not trained can cause medical errors. If you are injured as a result of a situation caused by understaffing, you may be able to begin a medical malpractice claim.
Hospitals have strong legal teams to help defend them against medical malpractice cases. If you believe you have a legitimate medical malpractice case against a hospital, it is essential that you hire a Baltimore, MD medical malpractice lawyer to represent you.
Peter Angelos Law Firm: We Answer Your Medical Malpractice Questions
Though the medical industry can be complicated, our attorneys are here to help you. We have been serving Maryland state-wide, including Baltimore, Frederick, Bowie, Annapolis, Towson and the surrounding areas for many years, and have amassed a great deal of experience in medical malpractice cases. Do not suffer in silence—contact our medical malpractice lawyers today to learn more about how our skills and extensive network can work for you.