As a patient seeking care from a medical professional, you assume they provide the highest standard of care in the best interests of your health and safety. However, in cases in which your healthcare provider breaches their duty of care and makes a medical error, they are liable for causing any injuries resulting from their malpractice. Determining exactly which party is liable for medical malpractice injuries can be complex and can often involve multiple parties. It is common for more than one party to be held liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit since doctors work with nurses, pharmacists, and more who are all potentially partly responsible in the event of a serious medical error. The hospital organization where the malpractice occurred can also be held liable for the poor standard of care and not preventing the malpractice from happening.
What Is Considered Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice can happen in many forms and involve various parties in the healthcare industry. Any preventable injury caused by a medical professional or healthcare worker who fails to meet the standard duty of care when treating a patient is considered medical malpractice. Grounds for a medical malpractice claim include the following elements:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached the duty of care
- The plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach of duty
- The plaintiff suffered compensable damages or losses, such as medical expenses or pain and suffering
Working with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you file a successful medical malpractice lawsuit by proving these elements in your case.
When Is a Doctor Liable For a Medical Mistake?
The two main types of medical mistakes made by physicians are an error in judgment or an error in carrying out treatment. An error in judgment is a mistake in the decision making of the best treatment of a patient. This type of medical malpractice which can result in a patient’s injuries can be seen occurring in misdiagnoses or failure to diagnose cases. On the other hand, a medical error in carrying out a patient’s treatment is a physical mistake made by a physician. For example, when a doctor makes a surgical error on a patient, such as leaving a retained object inside the body or operating on the wrong body part, they can be held liable for negligence and medical malpractice.
Some common types of medical mistakes made by physicians that the medical malpractice attorneys at Barry D. Lang, M.D. & Associates have seen include:
- Failing to properly document patient health data
- Failing to obtain informed consent from a patient
- Performing surgery on the wrong part of a patient’s body
- Misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose a patient’s illness or condition
- Prescribing the wrong dosage of medication or failing to check a patient’s existing prescriptions
When Is the Hospital Liable For Medical Errors?
When medical malpractice occurs at a hospital, the corporation can be held legally responsible for the negligence which occurred at their establishment. Since hospitals are held as either public or private entities, they hold vicarious liability for the negligent actions of their employees. The medical staff which the hospital employs must be licensed healthcare providers and the hospital must make reasonable inquiries regarding the credibility of their licensing and education. In the case in which a hospital fails to thoroughly inquire about the credentials of a physician or member of the medical staff, the hospital can be held liable for “corporate negligence” if a patient is injured by malpractice. Hospitals can also be held liable for failing to ensure a sufficient number of registered nurses are on duty at all times in the event that a patient suffers an injury due to lack of care.