While it is unrealistic to expect every patient to completely recover after a medical procedure, there are certain standards of care that hospitals are expected to provide. The Journal of Patient Safety has estimated up to 400,000 individuals die each year due to preventable harm that occurs while they are patients in a hospital. When injuries or illnesses happen because a hospital has failed to provide reasonable care there may be grounds for a malpractice case. The following information describes what is involved in hospital malpractice, how malpractice can be proven, and why a malpractice suit may be the best course of action.
What is Hospital Malpractice?
Hospital malpractice is sometimes referred to as corporate negligence. Corporate negligence is a legal term stating health care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes can be held accountable for the well-being and care of their patients. There are several ways in which this type of negligence or hospital malpractice may occur.
- Not having enough staff to provide adequate patient care
- Failure to ensure that the staff has had proper training and received correct licenses
- Losing or not keeping adequate patient records
- Providing an unnecessary or failed surgical procedure
- A patient getting an infection unrelated to the initial medical condition
Sometimes an employee of the hospital is directly responsible for an injury a patient may receive. This can include failure to give the proper dosage of medication or failing to make sure a patient is positioned securely in a bed or wheelchair. Even if an individual employee is responsible for injury to a patient, the hospital can still be held accountable. According to ConsumerDangers.com this is known as the law of respondeat superior. In legal terms it means that an employer, in this case the hospital, can be held liable for the negligent actions of its employees.
How Can Hospital Malpractice be Proven?
According to Forbes, experiencing a bad outcome after a medical procedure isn’t always enough to make a successful malpractice claim. Certain criteria generally must be met when proving a malpractice case.
- First, an injured patient must prove that there was a doctor-patient relationship. This means the physician or health provider had a duty to properly care for the patient.
- Secondly, it must be proven that a breach of duty or a substandard level of care had been given.
- The third criteria involves proving a connection between the breach of duty and the patient’s injury. This means proving substandard care directly caused the injury.
- Finally, it should be proven that a serious injury to the patient has actually occurred.
As long as an individual who was employed by the hospital was doing something that was job-related when a patient was injured, the hospital can be held accountable. Nurses, technicians, and even paramedics are usually employed by a hospital. Doctors, however, are often considered independent contractors and are not officially employees of the hospital. When seeking compensation for medical injuries received in a hospital it is sometimes difficult to know if the primary responsibility lies with the doctor or the hospital.
Why Go Forth with a Hospital Malpractice Suit?
Those who are victims of malpractice are often legally entitled to compensation. Damages can be awarded to help pay for medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress in regards to the injury suffered. An individual medical professional would likely not have the resources to make adequate compensation. The malpractice insurance a hospital carries most likely would have the funds to make the necessary compensation. This is one reason it is often advised to bring a malpractice suit against the hospital instead of an individual employee.
What Legal Action Can be Taken?
A hospital can be held legally responsible for malpractice directly related to its actions as well as negligence involving its employees. It can sometimes be difficult to know if the hospital, the physician, or both can be held accountable if a medical injury has occurred. Since determining fault and receiving adequate compensation can be complicated It is important to consult with an experienced attorney in the area of hospital malpractice. If you or a loved one has been injured or have gotten a serious illness while in a hospital, you may be eligible for compensation. Call our law firm today for a case evaluation.
Journal of Patient Safety – http://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/Fulltext/2013/09000/A_New,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx
consumerdangers.com – http://www.consumerdangers.com/medical-malpractice/types/hospital-malpractice/
malpractice insurance – http://www.medpro.com/hospitals