The Law Firm of Leisawitz Heller

When might hospitals be liable for medical malpractice?

When a medical emergency strikes, a person rushes to the hospital for aid. After all, some injuries or illnesses are so severe that they require immediate medical attention. The whole ordeal of going to the hospital can be overwhelming, especially when a person's life is at stake. However, even in non-life threatening situations, people in Pennsylvania depend on the expertise of hospital staff to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, sometimes something goes unnoticed, gets misdiagnosed or is even made worse due to poor medical care. This could lead to further complications from the initial illness or injury suffered, resulting in more medical bills, lost time at work and pain and suffering. Those who have been harmed due to an error at a hospital may wonder if they can bring a medical malpractice suit not just at the treating physician, but at the hospital itself.

Sometimes a hospital can be held liable for a staff member's medical malpractice via theory of "corporate negligence." For example, if a hospital did not thoroughly vet a medical professional's credentials prior to hiring him or her, or if the hospital knew the doctor was incompetent but let him or her practice anyways, the hospital could be held liable for the physician's mistake. In addition, hospitals are responsible for making sure their facilities are adequately staffed. For example, if a hospital does not have enough nurses on staff, and a patient suffers harm because of it, the hospital could be held liable.

A hospital could also be held liable for a physician's errors through theory of "respondeat superior." Hospitals will be found liable under this theory if the physician's negligence took place during the course of the physician's employment with the hospital. However, if a physician is not an employee of the hospital, but instead works as an independent contractor, this theory will not apply.

As you can see, there are ways that a hospital might be responsible for a physician's medical malpractice. However, this post only gives a general overview of hospital liability in a medical malpractice case, and cannot be used as the basis for any legal action. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, it may be a good idea to seek legal advice, so that you can hold all the responsible parties accountable.

Source: FindLaw, "Medical Malpractice: Who Can Be Sued?," accessed Oct. 12, 2017

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