Most people understand that they have a right to sue negligent doctors, nurses, and medical professionals who make unacceptable mistakes when treating them, or who fail to provide an acceptable standard of care. However, there are many medical malpractice cases where the hospital or medical center involved can also be named as a defendant.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to hold a hospital liable for medical malpractice and your damages. This is especially true when hospitals directly employ the medical professional who acted negligently and caused harm as a result, or when the hospital commits acts of negligence of their own, through other employees or through administrative errors and failures. Common examples of situations where hospitals can be held accountable include:
- Patient record errors, including patient hand-off
- Communication errors
- Failures to oversee staff
- Failures to ensure hospital standards are followed
- Poorly maintained equipment or premises
While hospitals are ultimately liable for the actions of their employees, they may not be liable for negligence committed by doctors whom they do not directly employ. Non-employee doctors are typically classified as independent contractors, and this is a common employment relationship between hospitals and physicians.
Under law, hospitals cannot be held liable for an independent contractor’s malpractice, even if it occurred at their facility. However, there may be exceptions, particularly if the hospital’s own negligence contributed to the injuries in some capacity, the hospital did not make it clear to the patient that the doctor was not an employee, or the hospital allowed a doctor with a history of mistakes and dangerous conduct to continue practicing at its facility. The individual facts of a case will determine whether a hospital could be liable under these circumstances.
Another issue associated with holding a hospital liable for malpractice occurs when patients are injured at federally funded medical facilities, including:
- Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities or hospitals
- Military hospitals
- Federally funded clinics
When patients are injured at government funded health care facilities, they will need to pursue compensation through the Federal Tort Claim Act (FTCA). FTCA lawsuits allow victims to directly hold the U.S. government accountable for their damages. While the same elements of a tort claim (negligence) must be established, there are unique rules and procedures involved in these cases. As such, victims will need to work with attorneys who have experience handling FTCA claims and navigating the unique issues involved.
At Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, our award-winning medical malpractice lawyers have helped clients hold numerous health care professionals, hospitals, and medical centers liable for the damages caused by their negligence. If you have a potential case, we can help you better understand your rights and which parties can be potentially be held at fault. Call (216) 600-0114 to discuss your claim during a free consultation.