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New Jersey hospitals liable when doctors lack insurance

Oregon patients may be interested in a case where the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that an injured patient cannot sue a surgeon for the failure to have proper medical malpractice insurance. In a split decision, the high court held that the state medical board has jurisdiction over doctors who lack medical malpractice insurance, not the court system. However, the Sept. 29 ruling also stated that hospitals may be sued for hiring doctors who do not have medical malpractice insurance.

The case before the court involved a man who suffered a herniated lumbar disk and underwent a spinal surgery in 2005. The patient experienced foot pain after the procedure, and it was discovered that the surgeon had improperly placed screws in his foot, pinching a nerve. He filed a lawsuit against the doctor and the Market Street Surgical Center in Saddle Brook for medical negligence and negligence for not having proper medical malpractice insurance.

However, a court threw out the insurance negligence claim against the doctor because his medical malpractice insurance specifically excluded spinal surgeries. The doctor was found guilty of medical negligence and ordered to pay the plaintiff $750,000. His medical license was suspended in 2012. The claims against the hospital were dropped.

On appeal, an appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling regarding both the doctor and the hospital. However, the high court differed from the lower court in finding that medical facilities can be sued if they have not done due diligence to ensure their doctors are insured.

Oregon residents who have been the victim of hospital negligence may want to speak with an attorney about the remedies that are available. It may be advisable to file a medical malpractice claim seeking financial compensation for the losses that have been sustained.