Oregon residents trust hospitals to be safe and clean environments for them to seek medical care. However, many people learn the hard way that this isn’t always true. When you have been injured in a hospital, it can come as a shock. People may not know where to turn, or if they can take legal action. While many people are aware that you can bring a medical malpractice suit against a doctor, fewer are likely to understand when you can bring a suit against a hospital.
Under the legal theory “respondeat superior,” a hospital can be held legally responsible for the actions of a negligent doctor. This means that the hospital could be responsible for paying for your medical expenses, lost wages and other expenses caused by the negligence. However, respondeat superior only applies in specific situations. It will only apply when an employee was negligent while acting within the scope of that person’s employment. Therefore, the doctor must be an employee of the hospital and doing the person’s job when the negligence occurred.
In many cases, a hospital will hire a doctor as an independent contractor. In these cases, the doctor is not an employee of the hospital and therefore respondeat superior will not apply. However, you may be able to argue that the hospital was negligent in granting privileges to a negligent doctor. If successful, you may still be entitled to damages from the hospital.
Whether or not a doctor is an employee of a hospital and whether that hospital is responsible for the doctor’s negligence are complicated legal questions that cannot be fully explained by this post. Therefore, you should seek specific legal advice if you believe a hospital’s negligence caused you harm.
Source: Findlaw.com, “Medical Malpractice In-Depth,” accessed Sept. 6, 2014