Hospitals and Medical Malpractice

Personal Injury Attorneys on Suing a Hospital for Malpractice

Most people understand a doctor may be liable if his or her professional negligence results in an injury to a patient, but under certain circumstances, a hospital may also be responsible as well. Every medical malpractice has the potential to be complex but perhaps even more so with third party involvement as with a hospital.

Liability as an Employer

The primary theory on which an injured individual may seek damages from a hospital is as an employer of medical professionals. Not every medical professional who works in a hospital, however, is an employee of that facility. If the person is appropriately classified as an independent contractor, the hospital may be able to avoid liability. Nurses, for example, are almost always employees of the hospital.

Doctors as Independent Contractors

In most instances, doctors are not employed by the hospital at which they have privileges but there are exceptions. If there is any doubt as to this fact, the court may have to rule on the matter. As with many questions of independent contractor vs. employee, the right to control and direct is often controlling. Thus, if the hospital administration sets the doctor’s work schedule, for example, this may be indicative of a employer-employee relationship.

Exceptions

Even where it can be demonstrated that a doctor was in fact and independent contractor, a hospital may nonetheless have some exposure. One such exception is where a hospital does not make it sufficiently clear to a patient that the doctor is not employed by the hospital. This most often occurs where a doctor is working in the emergency room of a hospital where in many circumstances it is impossible for a patient to be informed of the relationship between the hospital and the doctor.

A second exception may be if a hospital fails to use proper screening procedures in determining which doctors are to be given staff privileges. If this results in an incompetent doctor providing medical services at the hospital, the hospital may be liable for the doctor’s professional negligence.

Non-medical Negligence

A hospital may not be liable for medical malpractice if one of its employee’s was negligent in performing some non-medical duty. For instance, if a patient slips and falls do to the failure of a hospital employee to adequately warn of a wet floor, the hospital may be liable under a simple negligence theory but not for malpractice.

Contact Personal Injury Attorneys for Legal Advice

Hospitals, medical professionals and their insurance carriers vigorously contest malpractice claims. If you have been victimized by the negligence of a medical professional, you need to level the playing field. Begin by contacting Edward K. Le PLLC, Attorneys at Law, a personal injury lawyer in Renton, at www.Edwardkle.com.