We tend to think of hospitals as places we visit in order to heal a wound or treat an illness. Unfortunately, there are instances when a patient suffers additional harm while obtaining treatment at a hospital. When this happens, the consequences can be devastating, including serious injury or even death. Families of victims can be left with an extraordinary financial burden. Bringing a claim for malpractice can be one way to alleviate this burden.
In some malpractice cases, the facts are relatively straightforward: a patient visited one medical professional who deviated from the standard of care under the circumstances and caused the patient harm. However, a hospital patient can be treated by multiple medical professionals from a variety of disciplines, making a particular medical error difficult to pinpoint. There are certain instances in which a hospital itself may be liable for employee actions, and victims may bring a suit against the hospital as an entity (as opposed to bringing a claim against a medical professional in an individual capacity). However, it is important to note that most doctors who practice in hospitals are not directly employees of the hospital, which means bringing suit against a hospital for the mistake of a doctor can be a difficult.
When A Hospital May Be Liable
Actions of an Employee: Hospitals are generally liable for an employee's negligent behavior when the employee is acting within the scope of their employment. However, again, most doctors are not hospital employees.
A Doctor Who Appears to be an Employee: Most doctors who care for patients in a hospital setting are classified as independent contractors; therefore, the hospital is not responsible for mistakes or malpractice, even if such behavior occurred within the hospital. However, a hospital must make it clear to patients that the doctor is not an employee of the hospital. If this practice is not observed, it may be possible to bring a claim against the hospital for negligent behavior of a doctor. In most cases (with the exception of Emergency Room care, a hospital must have a procedure to clearly inform patients that a doctor is not an employee. Failure to observe this practice could mean that the hospital would be liable for a claim.
An Incompetent Doctor is Kept on Staff: Hospitals are responsible for making sure that a doctor who is incompetent does not practice on their premises. Therefore, if a surgeon who is permitted to operate at a specific hospital is in a car accident and suffers traumatic injuries, a hospital must make sure that such injuries have not impeded the ability of the surgeon to perform his or her job.
Dangerous Conditions: Conditions inside a hospital, like slippery floors or broken stairs, are things that a hospital is obligated to fix. Injuries resulting from these kinds of hazardous conditions inside a hospital generally fall under premises liability law. Fortunately, because you are generally on the hospital's property for the hospital's economic benefit, you will likely be considered an invitee, meaning that the hospital has to take reasonable care to make certain that you are not hurt while on their property. It may be possible to bring a claim against a hospital if you were injured due to dangerous conditions.
Legal Representation for Hospital Injuries In Maryland
If you suffered any type of injury as a hospital patient, please contact our law offices. The legal team at Gilman & Bedigian works closely with our staff physician to investigate cases when a hospital might be to blame for injuries. We are dedicated to helping injured people and their families get the compensation they deserve so that they can move forward with their lives.