If you are injured while receiving medical care, you may be able to receive compensation for the harm done to you. If a medical error occurs in a hospital, the hospital may be liable if the care was provided by a nurse, technician, paramedic or other hospital staff. Doctors, however, are held accountable to different medical malpractice guidelines.

Employee Negligence in Hospitals

When a mistake occurs that harms a patient, the hospital may be liable if the responsible person is an employee of that hospital. The hospital is only liable if the harm occurred because the employee was negligent, meaning he or she was acting irresponsibly. Every medical mistake does not necessarily qualify as negligence and must meet certain requirements.

Hospital employees usually include the nurses, medical technicians, and paramedics. If an injury occurs while they were performing a task related to their job, the hospital may be liable for damages. If an injury occurs because of an error by a doctor, the hospital is only responsible if that doctor is an employee of the hospital. Many doctors work as independent contractors and are not covered by the hospital’s malpractice insurance. This is also an issue when a hospital employee makes an error while working under the supervision of a doctor. A doctor is considered to be responsible for the employee’s error if the doctor was present at the time of the error and, if the doctor would have been able to prevent the injury. In these cases, the doctor could be sued, but the hospital would not be liable.

Doctors are typically not hospital employees

The nature of the doctor’s relationship with the hospital determines whether the doctor is an employee or not. Generally, doctors are not employees, but rather independent contractors. Doctors who are employees generally have their rates and working hours controlled by the hospital. If the doctor is not an employee, the hospital is not responsible for negligence or malpractice even if it occurs in the hospital.

Cases in which hospitals are liable for doctor’s negligence

There are certain situations in which a hospital may be responsible for the negligence of an independent contractor physician:

Emergency room situations

In order not to be liable for malpractice, the hospital must make it clear to the patient that the doctor is not an employee. Most hospitals now have this information included in admission forms. In an emergency situation, there may not be enough time for the hospital to inform the patient as to the employee status of the doctor. In these cases, the patients can often sue the hospital for the doctor’s medical malpractice. In some states, patients in the emergency room can sue the hospital even if they were told the doctor was not a hospital employee. But it is important to remember that every situation is different and usually very complex.

Employing an incompetent doctor

In some states, the hospital is liable if they continue to give staff privileges to a physician who is known to be dangerous or incompetent. They may also be liable if they should have known that the physician would or had become a risk. One example is if the hospital knew or should have known that a physician was abusing drugs. In this case, if this doctor injured a patient the hospital could be sued.

How we can help you

Medical malpractice law is a complicated field that varies between states. It is essential to get the advice or representation of a personal injury lawyer to determine which entities are liable for medical malpractice or negligence.

Have You Been Injured In An Accident Virginia, Maryland or Washington D.C.?

If you've been hurt in an accident you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your case consultation.

Yuvora Nong
Helping VA, MD & Washington D.C. clients with all of their immigration law legal needs since 1997.