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Medical Malpractice Liable Parties

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What Parties Are Liable in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Medical malpractice lawsuits can sometimes be difficult to deal with, because the plaintiff may already be suffering from various medical conditions in addition to the malpractice. Part of the difficulty with some medical malpractice lawsuits is in determining who the liable parties are. 

Depending on the specific facts of the case, it may be possible to hold the following parties liable for medical malpractice injuries and losses:

  • Hospitals: Health care organizations can often be liable for errors in patient treatment. An example of this is with emergency room negligence, or where the patient receives the wrong type of treatment
  • Physicians and Surgeons: Under principles of vicarious liability, it is sometimes possible to hold individual physicians and surgeons responsible for injuries, in addition to the hospital or health care provider. This may depend on individual decisions of the health care professional
  • Nurses and staff: Administrative errors can often lead to some injuries or economic losses, especially if there is a major oversight or miscommunication of vital patient information
  • Pharmacies and pharmacists: Prescribing the wrong type or dosage of medicines can lead to injury.  Also, giving a patient the wrong set of instructions can lead to serious injury

In addition, it’s also possible for medical malpractice to result from improper advice being given to a patient, not just negligent treatment. An example of this is where the patient receives the wrong follow-up instructions from a health care practitioner or home nurse.

What If More Than One Party Is Liable for the Injuries?

Another concern with medical malpractice liability is that sometimes more than one person or party can be responsible for the injuries. In addition to any actual procedures, medical treatment has several different stages, such as intake, diagnosis, pre-treatment consultation, and follow-up. Along this chain of procedures, various errors can occur.

For example, a nurse may receive improper instructions regarding the dosage of a certain anesthesia. The question then becomes whether the nurse should have recognized whether to correct the dosage. This can depend on many different factors, such as the nurse’s skill level, as well as the nature of the instructions received. 

Most states have mechanisms for determining how to deal with liability between different parties. This is known as the “division of liability” in a personal injury claim, and result in the liable parties having to pay certain percentages of the damages award. Again, this is a very complicated determination that depends on many factors and is different from state to state. It usually requires the expertise of a lawyer and may also require the testimony of medical experts as well. Different types of evidence need to be examined, such as hospital reports, medical receipts, and doctor’s notes.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Medical malpractice lawsuits generally require the assistance of a personal injury lawyer.  This is especially true for cases where it’s difficult to tell exactly who is liable for the patient’s injuries. If you or a loved one needs assistance with a medical malpractice claim, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer in your area. A qualified lawyer can assist you in filing a lawsuit, and can provide you with expert legal consultation during the trial. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 07-12-2018 01:55 AM PDT

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