In a medical malpractice case, a doctor or another medical professional is held responsible for either negligent or reckless actions that caused injury. In such circumstances, victims of medical malpractice can file a lawsuit against the responsible party to recover compensation. Medical costs, long-term care, and other treatments often necessitate significant damages be awarded to properly compensate a victim.
However, determining who is liable in many medical malpractice cases can be difficult. There are some medical malpractice cases where a doctor, nurse, or another professional can clearly be proven to have been reckless or negligent.
For instance, a doctor may distractedly ignore the signs of cancer on an x-ray sheet, or assign improper medication for a patient’s needs, leading to complications.
But what if a same doctor wrongfully prescribed a treatment to a patient because he or she was simply following flawed practice standards and/or rules set in place by a hospital?
In such situations, the doctor may have acted negligently, but only because of the guidelines of their employer. When the hospital as an entity is found responsible for negligence and medical malpractice, it is called “hospital liability.”
When Are Hospitals Liable for Medical Malpractice?
Hospital liability is normally determined on a case-by-case basis. Because hospitals can be public or private corporations, they can be held liable for medical malpractice. Hospitals are also responsible for employing licensed and trained physicians and other healthcare providers, including nurses, doctors, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, and more.
A hospital may be proven liable for medical malpractice if:
- The hospital did not adequately inquire into a potential employee’s education, including their training and licensing. If an untrained nurse administers the wrong medication to a patient, it’s both the fault of the nurse and the hospital that hired him or her
- The hospital did not make reasonable inquiries regarding the behavior of one of its medical staff. If a doctor has a reputation for mistreating his or her patients, and the hospital does not investigate, they may be held liable for medical malpractice
- A hospital can also be held liable for its own negligence – for instance, it may allow a physician with a known record of mistreating patients to work on-premises
Hospitals are also held responsible for circumstantial negligence. For example, if a patient receives inadequate care and suffers because there wasn’t a nurse on hand to assist with their condition, the hospital may be held liable instead of the staff. This is because it is the hospital’s responsibility to make sure there are plenty of registered nurses on duty at all times to maintain a certain acceptable standard of care.
There are some exceptions to hospital liability in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that immunizes healthcare facilities and professionals from a few major types of healthcare liability, so long as the healthcare provided relates to COVID-19. This may or may not affect a medical malpractice case, but all victims of medical malpractice should be aware of this before filing a lawsuit.
What is Vicarious Liability?
Vicarious liability occurs when a hospital is held liable under “respondeat superior.” This doctrine states that an employer can be held liable for some negligent acts carried out by an employee, so long as the employee was acting under the scope of his or her employment.
This covers situations where a doctor provides improper healthcare and does so because of rules or restrictions imposed on his or her behavior by their employing hospital. This ensures that, in the event of a medical malpractice case, there will be a party held responsible to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries.
How Prevalent is Medical Malpractice in New York?
According to doctor and healthcare expert Dr. David Belk’s The True Cost of Healthcare:
- New York alone accounts for almost 20% of all medical malpractice costs in the US since 2003
- From 2012-2016, there was an average of around 85 paid malpractice claims per 1 million residents
- New York is the riskiest state in which to receive healthcare
Another recent study from the Bay Alarm Medical Company indicated that New York’s population suffers over 55 malpractice cases per 100,000 residents that result in a major injury or death. Clearly, medical malpractice is a big problem in New York.
How Does Hospital Liability Affect Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?
A medical malpractice lawsuit may, over the course of the investigation, reveal that a medical professional’s employing hospital has some culpability in the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. Skilled medical malpractice attorneys can help victims identify and press charges to the correct party to maximize their potential compensation and ensure justice is brought to their clients.
A medical malpractice lawsuit must still adhere to the same burdens of proof regardless of whether the defendant is an individual or a corporation. Negligence or recklessness must be proven and those actions must be directly tied to the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.
Can Hospitals and Medical Professionals Both Be Held Liable?
Yes. Shared liability may play a role in a medical malpractice case, though the exact “percentage” or amount of liability assigned to each party will vary based on case specifics. This assignment of blame will also affect which party is responsible for paying certain damages to the injured plaintiff.
What Compensation Can Patients Expect from a Hospital Lawsuit?
If a hospital is held liable for a medical malpractice case, the injured plaintiff can expect damages that cover all or the majority of their medical costs. Examples of compensation include:
- Costs for past and future medical bills
- Costs for pain and suffering
- Damages for loss of income or loss of future income in the event of disability
- Damages for loss of companionship or emotional turmoil
Contact New York Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
Any victim of a medical malpractice case has the best chance of receiving the compensation they need to fully recover by contacting Sobo & Sobo. As the most qualified New York medical malpractice attorneys in the state for over 50 years, they’re well-equipped to assist any injured plaintiff, whether they be the victim of an individual doctor’s negligence, or if an entire hospital is liable for their injuries. Medical Contact them today for a free consultation by calling 855-468-7626.