Who’s Responsible in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

Whether you have suffered due to a surgical error, emergency room error, misdiagnosis or any other form of medical negligence, it is important to have an experienced medical negligence attorney on your side.

Those who have suffered from errors during surgery, errors in the ER, misdiagnosis from a physician or other form of medical negligence, consult with a medical malpractice attorney to see if you can build a case.

In the case of medical malpractice, it’s not only doctors who are left responsible. Negligence can come from a variety of medical professionals within a hospital or clinic, such as osteopaths, dentists, nurses, health care facilities and nursing homes. If you feel that you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice due to the negligence of a medical professional, then contact Dansker & Aspromonte Associates in New York City today.

Individual Providers Can be at Fault of Negligence

In medical malpractice cases, it can be the individual providers who are at fault. This includes nurses, doctors, chiropractors, assistants of physicians, alternative medicine practitioners and other hospital employees. In order to have a medical malpractice case against any medical professional, it is required that the plaintiff prove that the health care provider owed a duty to the plaintiff (in a patient/provider relationship). The plaintiff must also prove that the medical provider breached that duty by providing below acceptable standard care that in turn caused harm or injury to the plaintiff.

The attorneys at Dansker & Aspromonte have successfully handled numerous medical malpractice cases for clients throughout the New York City metropolitan area. No matter how difficult and complex the case, we are prepared to handle it.

Hospitals and its Facilities

Medical malpractice suits can also be filed against entities, such as hospitals. Hospitals are responsible for the workers it employs, so they can be held liable for negligence on their part (direct hospital negligence), and vicariously liable for their employees’ negligence. Vicariously liable is a term used for parties who are held responsible for the negligence of another, rather than for its own negligence.

What is Direct Hospital Negligence?

Hospitals are responsible for the people it employs within its facilities. This means inquiring about the applicants’ educational and training background, as well as licensing is the responsibility of the hospital. When a hospital fails to screen applicants before hiring them, they can be held liable under the doctrine known as “corporate negligence”. This is a doctrine for negligent retention or supervision of employees. There are two ways a hospital can be held liable:

  • It fails to properly look into the credentials of an applicant before hiring him or her
  • It allows a doctor it knew was incompetent to work with patients within its facilities

Hospitals are held responsible for ensuring that it has enough RNs working at all times to provide patients with quality care. When a hospital fails to provide this, this too can make it liable for patients’ injuries sustained during the shortage of nurses. Another area where a hospital may be held liable is when an employee doesn’t follow the instructions of a patient’s private physician. When a hospital employee sees a contraindication on a private physician’s treatment plan, but doesn’t inquire about it, the hospital could be held responsible for the injuries that incur due to it.

It is a hospital’s duty to provide safety to its patients by preventing harm, providing sufficient clinical tests, maintaining accurate medical records and properly discharging and admitting patients. When these responsibilities aren’t met and a patient gets hurt, it falls on the hospital. Generally, hospitals are required to treat people who are severely sick or hurt on an emergency basis and when they fail to do this because of discrimination against religion, race, color or inability pay, liability can befall the hospital as well.

What is Vicarious Liability?

When the employees within a hospital injure a patient, it is possible for the hospital to be held vicariously liable. This is based on a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, which indicates that an employer can be held liable for the acts of negligent workers, if the worker was working within the scope of his or her position when the act of omission or neglect occurred. The purpose of this doctrine is to ensure that a responsible party will be able to compensate a plaintiff who was injured.

There are some cases where the health care provider is an independent contractor rather than an employee of the hospital. In this scenario, the respondeat superior doctrine doesn’t apply. When an independent contractor neglects a patient within a hospital it has a contract with, the hospital isn’t held liable for his or her negligence. But it could be held responsible for its own negligence when signing a contract with a physician who is incompetent or unlicensed.

Can HMOs be Held Liable for Network Physicians?

There have been debates on whether or not health maintenance organizations should be held responsible for negligence caused by a physician within their network. When an HMO is the defendant in a malpractice case, it is treated the same as a hospital. This means that the HMO will either be facing direct negligence, which is when the HMO is held liable for irresponsibly hiring, supervising or retaining certain doctors, or an HMO can also be held responsible through vicarious liability, respondeat superior or agency. Some states offer pre-emption to HMOs that are chartered under state law, which protects them from large jury awards.

Call a Medical Malpractice Attorney

When you or someone you know becomes a victim of negligence by a health care worker, you can consult with an experienced malpractice lawyer about your case. Give Dansker & Aspromonte Associates in New York, NY a call today to discuss your case.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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