Hospital negligence occurs when a hospital or health care facility fails to follow the duty of care they owe to patients in dealing with those patients. A person may be able to file a negligence claim against the hospital if the breach of duty that the hospital.
Many medical malpractice claims involve injuries caused by a physician or other health care professional. However, in a claim for hospital negligence, it is the medical institution itself that is being sued. Thus, there may be a high likelihood that more than one person was affected by the hospital’s negligence. If the hospital is found to be liable for negligence, they may have to reimburse the plaintiff for their losses or injuries.
Hospital negligence can occur in two basic forms: the direct negligence of the hospital, or the negligence of a worker that the hospital was vicariously liable for. In the first instance, the direct acts of the hospital result in the breach of duty to the patient.
In the second type, it is not the hospital that performed the negligent act, but rather an employee of the hospital. However, the hospital may be held liable if the employee acted while under the hospital’s control, or if the hospital ordered the employee’s actions. This is known as “vicarious liability," and requires that a number of additional elements to be proved.
Examples of a hospital engaging in direct negligence include:
- Failing to ensure that hospital staff meet the required standards for licenses, training, and education
- Failing to ensure that non-employees, such as independent contractors or attending physicians, in the hospital meet the proper credentials
- Not maintaining enough staff, nurses, or physicians to ensure the appropriate level of patient care
- Losing, mishandling, or unlawfully transferring confidential patient records
Some examples of a hospital’s vicarious liability can include:
- A nurse or technician giving a patient the wrong medication or an improper dosage
- Negligent care in an operation, such as leaving an object in the patient’s body
- A health worker administering medication when they knew or should have known that the patient may have an allergic reaction
- Improper treatment/dressing of wounds
- Disregard of proper medical care standards
When the hospital negligence claim is based on vicarious liability, the plaintiff needs to show that the negligent employee was acting under the control or direction of the hospital facility. Otherwise, the hospital may not be liable for the negligence of the employee.
In a successful negligence claim against a hospital, the plaintiff may be able to recover losses such as hospital bills, additional costs associated with the injuries, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity. Punitive damages are not normally awarded in negligence claims, since the defendant is usually not acting intentionally.
Most hospital negligence claims can be difficult to understand, especially if they involve legal theories like vicarious liability. If you have any issues involving the negligence of a hospital, you may wish to contact a personal injury attorney in your area for advice. Your attorney can assist you in filing a claim and can help you obtain a damages award for your injuries.