Hospital negligence occurs when a hospital worker such as a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or dentist provides improper, inadequate, or harmful care to a patient. While medical professionals are typically known to do their duty carefully and thoroughly, they may make mistakes through acts of negligence, error, or omission.
Hospital negligence often leads to the patient suffering severe injury or even death. A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine published in a recent year revealed that about 10 percent of deaths in the United States resulted from medical errors and negligence. In addition, the Doctors Company found that in a recent year, 37 percent of medical malpractice claims in the United States resulted in compensation for the victims.
While they should never happen, hospital negligence cases are frequent and often have deadly consequences for the patients. If you have suffered due to hospital negligence, you may deserve compensation. Read on to learn more about hospital negligence and how to claim damages.
What Is Hospital Negligence?
Medical doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals owe their patients a duty to care for and treat them. The level of medical care they are sworn to provide is defined as reasonably competent and professionally skilled.
Negligence occurs when a medical professional performs their duty in a way that deviates from the accepted standard of medical care. In such a situation, the professional has failed to perform their duty and is negligent.
Under a legal theory known as respondeat superior, the hospital is responsible for ensuring that employees maintain a high level of medical care when diagnosing, treating, or caring for a patient in their establishment.
Hospital negligence describes a medical institution at fault for one of its professionals causing an injury. If you sought treatment at a hospital and believe that a doctor, nurse, dentist, surgeon, or any other healthcare professional provided a substandard car, you may file a civil case against the hospital for the pain and injuries you suffered.
Types of Hospital Negligence
There are many instances of negligence where the hospital may be held responsible for any injuries the patient suffers. In most cases, the hospital negligence claims the patient files depend on who provided the healthcare service.
Here are the most common forms of medical negligence:
Misdiagnosis occurs when a hospital employee fails to diagnose the condition a patient is suffering from correctly. In many cases, the doctor may incorrectly diagnose the patient and prescribe the wrong medication or none at all. This may result in the patient’s condition deteriorating or becoming life-threatening.
Unnecessary and Negligent Surgery
Surgical operations always come with significant risks. However, some doctors may misread lab results and prescribe unnecessary surgical procedures due to negligence or incompetence. In such cases, the patient can sue the hospital for keeping such a doctor on staff.
Inadequate Staffing or Equipment
Hospitals are required to ensure that there is enough staff on duty at all times to provide the right quality of patient care. When a hospital is understaffed or under-equipped, the available professionals can be overworked, leading to mistakes.
In some cases, patients have won a hospital negligence case by proving that the doctor who attended to them was overworked or lacked the essential equipment to provide the proper quality of treatment.
Proving Hospital Negligence
When a medical professional fails to uphold the proper standard of care, the employer or hospital may be held responsible. However, proving that the hospital employee or the hospital was responsible for the negligence can be difficult, and often requires a skilled and experienced medical negligence attorney.
When you sue a hospital for negligence, you must show that the medical professional who is a direct employee of the hospital acted negligently when providing care and that the negligence resulted in an injury. You will have to prove four legal elements:
1. A Duty of Care
Medical professionals and hospitals owe their patients a duty of care. The patient must show that the hospital breached this duty of care to prove medical negligence.
2. Standard of Care
The patient must prove that the hospital or medical professional working for the hospital failed to provide the right standard of care or treatment.
3. Dereliction and Direct Cause
The patient must show that the actions or omissions of the hospital or hospital staff caused them injury-physical or psychological. The plaintiff must prove that the injury they suffered was caused by the negligent actions of the hospital or hospital staff.
As a victim of negligence, the patient must show that they deserve financial damages for the hospital’s negligence.
Many doctors are not hospital employees; they are independent practitioners with admitting privileges at the hospitals where they work. When a doctor who is not an employee is negligent in providing treatment to a patient, the hospital may not be responsible for the negligence, and the patient can sue them in their personal capacity.
Hospital Negligence vs. Medical Negligence
You can typically sue a hospital when a healthcare professional they employ causes you harm or injury through negligence. These professionals may include doctors, surgeons, dentists, nurses, medical technicians, and even support staff working in the hospital.
Medical professionals are considered hospital employees if:
- The hospital pays the professional a salary or sets the fees they can charge.
- The hospital controls the professional’s working hours.
If you are unsure whether a doctor is a hospital employee, your lawyer will carry out due diligence before the case is filed to find out whether the professional who acted negligently is an employee of the hospital or an independent contractor.
Take the Next Step
If you believe you or someone you care about is a victim of hospital negligence, you may deserve compensation for the avoidable pain and suffering. Fortunately, the law is on your side, and an experienced lawyer can help you prove the case. However, since hospital negligence cases are different, you must act quickly and get professional advice for your specific situation.