If you’ve been harmed by medical malpractice, it can be hard to know who to hold accountable. In many cases, you can find fault with the medical professional who treated you, but sometimes the hospital is responsible. Here’s a basic rundown of when the hospital is responsible for medical malpractice and when it isn’t:
Hospitals are generally responsible for the actions of their employees. Whenever an employee’s negligence harms a patient, the hospital is liable for the resulting damages. Paramedics, nurses and medical technicians are generally considered hospital employees. If they were performing a task related to their job when the negligence occurred, the hospital will typically be liable.
Doctors are a different story. Many doctors aren’t hospital employees, even if they work their regularly. Doctors whose hours, vacation times and fees are set by the hospital are usually considered employees, whereas doctors who work as independent contractors are not considered employees.
This means that if a doctor who doesn’t work at a hospital makes a mistake, liability usually lands on their shoulders. A doctor may also be responsible if a hospital employee commits malpractice under their supervision, in a situation where the doctor was present and could have prevented the employee’s negligence.
There are instances, however, when a hospital can still be responsible for an non-employee doctor. If the hospital does not clarify to a patient that the doctor is not an employee, in an admission form or otherwise, the patient can sue the hospital. Patients injured in the emergency room are another story and are subject to more complex rules. The hospital may also be sued if they employ an incompetent or dangerous contractor.
The best personal injury lawyers can often get you a settlement from all parties involved. Personal injury lawyers specializing in medical malpractice will often be more capable of helping you than generalized personal injury lawyers. If you’re not sure how to find a personal injury attorney, start with online reviews and recommendations from friends and go from there.