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When Can a Hospital be Sued for Malpractice?

Loma Linda University Medical center has nearly 7,500 employees. Each floor is staffed with nurses, medical technicians, therapists, and several other job titles. Like at any other large medical institution, being a patient will involve interactions with several health care roles. And so, medical malpractice can take place in several circumstances. But in such cases of negligence, who is held liable?

Medical Staff

Hospitals are responsible for their employees' negligence. However, they are not always considered liable for the medical malpractice that occurs in their facility. Generally, a hospital must take responsibility for the negligent actions of nurses, technicians, and other medical professionals. However, when it comes to their physicians, a hospital will typically not assume responsibility and will not be sued for a doctor's malpractice.

Employees and Doctors of Hospitals:

The most significant factor that determines whether or not a hospital can be sued for medical malpractice is the health care provider's employee status. If an employee of the hospital acted negligently, resulting in harm to the patient, the hospital is considered responsible. But who is regarded as an employee? Generally, most of the healthcare professionals with whom you will interact at the hospital are employees of that particular facility.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however. Doctors are often not considered employees of the hospital. Instead, they are most often legally seen as "independent contractors." And so, if it is your doctor who has committed malpractice, then the hospital is free of responsibility. Liability may also fall on a physician if they were supervising a hospital employee who committed malpractice. In this case, the doctor must have been present and had been able to prevent the employee from acting negligently.

Doctors that are employees: 

Though it is less typical, a doctor can be an employee of the hospital. This status is determined by two factors: 1) if the hospital controls the doctor's schedule of time off and 2) the hospital sets the amount of what procedures can cost.

When a hospital is responsible for the malpractice of non-employee doctors: 

There are instances in which a hospital might be held liable for an independent contractor. The hospital could be sued if it did not disclose to the patient that their physician was not an employee. And in the case that the hospital was aware that an incompetent or dangerous doctor was practicing at their facility, they could be held liable, in part, for their actions.A

As a patient in a hospital, you will be cared for by several staff members. So, in the case that you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of medical malpractice, be sure to seek legal assistance. With over 60 years of combined experience, we at Peach and Weathers are prepared to advocate for your case with refined expertise in medical malpractice. Reach out today for help in this time of need.

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