Medicine and medical technology advance nearly every day. In addition, doctors and other medical professionals have access to more information and diagnostic tools than ever.
We trust our physicians to make the right decisions regarding our healthcare. However, doctors and surgeons can and do make mistakes.
When those mistakes harm us or our loved ones, we have the legal right to seek compensation for our injuries. These types of cases are called medical malpractice claims. Bringing a malpractice case involves a number of steps, the first and most important of which is determining whether the hospital or medical professional is liable.
When is the hospital liable for malpractice?
Simply put, the responsibility for medical negligence typically lies where the responsible party is employed. If the medical professional is an employee of a hospital, the hospital may be liable for malpractice. If the doctor is an independent contractor at the hospital, she or he might be personally liable. The doctor might also be employed by a separate medical practice that could be liable for what he or she does while seeing patients at the hospital.
You may have a case against the hospital if an employee acted irresponsibly or negligently and caused you injury. It’s important to remember that these types of events are usually only categorized as medical malpractice if they result in injury or harm. Hospitals are typically liable for the actions of their employees.
Who are hospital employees? Nurses, medical technicians, and other support staff likely are employed directly by the hospital. For example, if a nurse working at the hospital accidentally hooked up the wrong IV bag to a patient, causing injury and infection, the hospital would likely be responsible for the nurse’s mistake.
On the other hand, if a doctor made a similar mistake in the same hospital, injuring a patient, the hospital might not be liable. This is because many doctors are independent contractors at hospitals, meaning they’re technically not employees of the hospital. In cases like these, victims of malpractice would likely bring a case against the doctor and/or the doctor’s medical practice.
There are some exceptions to the rule, of course, and it’s important to remember that every case is unique. If a patient is harmed while being treated by a hospital employee who is under the supervision of an independent-contractor doctor, for example, the patient might be able to sue the doctor, the hospital, or both, depending on the particular facts. Or, if a hospital keeps a doctor on staff who is known to be incompetent, even as an independent contractor, the hospital may still be liable for any injuries the doctor causes.
The Atlanta and Savannah medical malpractice attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP are skilled, experienced and ready to review your case. We will work to ensure you are compensated for your injuries and losses. If you were injured in a Georgia hospital, call us today at 404-961-7650 at our Atlanta office, in Savannah at 912-651-9967, or fill out our contact form and schedule a free consultation.