A claim for medical malpractice arises when the health care a patient receives falls below the accepted standard, based on the area of specialty and the geographic region. Many medical malpractice claims are based on a doctor or other health care professional’s negligence. However, there are cases when hospitals or other medical facilities can be held liable for medical malpractice.
If you believe that a hospital was responsible for your injuries, contact Goldberg Finnegan for assistance. An experienced Silver Spring medical malpractice lawyer can explain your rights and help you explore your options for financial recovery.
Hospital Liability for Actions of Employees
Hospitals can potentially be held liable for the actions of their employees due to the legal concept of vicarious liability, which holds employers responsible for the negligent acts of their employees. Medical malpractice may be committed by a variety of health care providers in numerous ways.
Doctors may misdiagnose patients because they have failed to properly evaluate their symptoms or have not requested the necessary tests to establish the patient’s actual health concern. Doctors can also be negligent during the childbirth process or when prescribing or administering medication.
The hospital that employs the doctor may be held liable in any of these situations. However, many doctors are not direct employees of the hospital, which may affect whether a claim can be brought against the hospital itself.
Nurses can also commit medical malpractice. Nurses often perform tasks that are essential to a person’s well-being. Some forms of nurse malpractice include:
- Failing to properly monitor a patient
- Failing to take the patient’s vital signs at required intervals
- Failing to move bedridden patients
- Failing to report symptoms or complaints to the treating physician
- Administering the wrong medication
Therapists owe their patients a duty to provide proper care to them. If a therapist causes injury by his or her negligent act, or does not act when needed, the hospital that employs him or her can be held liable for the therapist’s negligence.
What If the Health Care Provider is not an Employee?
In some situations, health care providers are considered independent contractors. However, they may be misclassified and may be in an employment relationship. It may be necessary to investigate the nature of the relationship between the health care provider and the hospital to determine if the hospital can be held liable.
Important factors that point to an employment relationship include:
- The hospital sets the health care provider’s fees
- The hospital exerts significant control over payments to the health care provider
- The hospital sets the health care provider’s schedule
- The hospital exerts significant control over the job conditions of the health care provider
If it is determined that the health care provider is not an employee, your medical malpractice lawyer may suggest making a separate claim against the provider or looking for direct negligence committed by the hospital.
Direct Negligence of the Hospital
Hospitals owe patients a number of important duties, such as hiring physicians and nurses who are appropriately credentialed and skilled. They also must supervise the actions of their employees. Hospitals can be held liable for their own direct negligence, such as:
- Negligent hiring – Hospitals are responsible for hiring qualified health care professionals. They should check their backgrounds and education to ensure that they can provide proper care to patients. They must also ensure that they are licensed and have retained their credentials while employed.
- Understaffing – Hospitals must ensure that there are enough medical providers to provide proper care to their patients.
- Inadequate firing practices – If a hospital receives complaints about a health care provider, hospitals must take appropriate action. If health care providers fail to perform their jobs competently, hospitals have a duty to terminate their services.
- Failing to protect patient safety – Hospitals must follow procedures to protect the safety of their patients, such as maintaining operating equipment, replacing faulty equipment and developing standards to keep a sterile environment. Hospitals must also have procedures in place to provide timely updates of patient files, prevent falls and properly administer medications.
Contact a Licensed Lawyer for Assistance
Establishing the liability of a hospital in a medical malpractice case is often very complex. If you suspect that your injuries were caused by medical malpractice, it is critical to seek assistance from a skilled medical malpractice lawyer.
The trusted medical malpractice lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan can gather information to support your claim and to determine which parties share responsibility for your injuries. Your consultation is free and comes with no obligation to pursue a case. You only pay us if we secure the compensation you deserve.