Posted on 06/06/2022

Can a hospital be held liable for medical negligence?

Can a hospital be held liable for medical negligence?

If you’ve suffered an injury or a loss due to medical error and are unsure what to do— you’ve come to the right place.

Understanding legal terminology, or “lawyer talk” can be a headache, but it doesn’t have to be with the right resources and help. 

We’re going to explain what medical negligence is, who can be held liable for medical negligence (including the hospital itself) and what to do next to get started on your legal pursuit.

Finally I’ll share how to receive a free consultation with an experienced and highly rated medical malpractice attorney in Michigan. 

What is medical negligence?

In the medical world, a physician is required to provide every patient with the widely accepted standard of treatment. 

Failure to provide the proper care for any reason that results in a patient injured falls into medical negligence.   

There are many steps involved in providing care for a patient, and an average physician should follow every step according to the standard medical treatment, while considering their patient’s current health and past medical records. 

When a physician deviates from the widely-accepted standard of care or if they don’t accurately and efficiently provide the standard level of care, they should be held legally accountable for any resulting injury.

Medical negligence and errors are now ranked in the top leading causes of death in the United States.

It’s important to remember that most injuries due to medical negligence are preventable. 

Most of the common cases of medical malpractice, or negligence, involve the following:

  1. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  2. Prescription errors
  3. Surgical errors
  4. Errors and injuries during childbirth
  5. Failure to act or provide treatment
  6. The wrong treatment is provided

An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to determine the weight and validity of your injury and if your injury was in fact due to medical negligence. 

Is the hospital responsible for their employees’ negligence? 

Any healthcare professional that provided you with care or treatment can be held legally accountable for malpractice. 

But can you sue a hospital?

Under vicarious liability, hospitals can also be held responsible for the negligence of a hospital employee in medical malpractice cases. 

With vicarious liability, the liability falls in the hands of the employer due to the relationship with the employee. 

This would pertain to the following medical health professionals who are directly employed by the hospital.

Physicians – Physicians can be held legally accountable for a misdiagnosis, any negligence affecting pregnancy or childbirth, errors involving prescribing and administering medication and surgical errors. 

Nurses – If a nurses conduct falls below the standard level of care while providing treatment, they can also be held legally accountable. 

Nurses can also be held responsible if they fail to:

  • Monitor a patient properly
  • Follow through with the physician’s orders
  • Check a patient’s bed sores
  • Move (or rotate) the patient accordingly, 
  • Respond to a patient’s call or failure to do so in a timely manner, 
  • Provide the correct medication or do so at the correct time
  • Enter the patien’ts records

Therapists – This can include mental health, occupational and physical therapists. Although each type of therapy has it’s own standard level of care and treatment, they can be held legally responsible for any misstep of treatment, or error in treatment.

For example, a physical therapist could be held accountable if they failed to document the correct pain points of their patient or failed to treat the documented pain points a patient may be experiencing. 

For mental health, a therapist could be held legally responsible for incorrectly diagnosing their patient and furthermore prescribing the incorrect medication or for failing to report any suspicious or concerning behavior. 

Contracted hospital employees

The hospital can also be held responsible for the actions of independent contractors, but this depends on which state you live in.

However, the determining factor of whether the liability falls under the hospital or the health care professional essentially depends on the extent of control the hospital had over the employee. 

Some common determining factors include, but is not limited to,

  • If the hospital is determining the fees the physician can charge
  • If the hospital controls the health care professional’s hours
  • If the hopsital has significant control over the health care professional’s job conditions

An experienced Michigan medical malpractice attorney will be able to review your claim and how Michigan’s medical liability laws affect your case. 

What are the next steps to file a medical malpractice claim?

If you’re a victim of medical negligence, then reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

It’s imperative you reach out to an attorney sooner rather than later because every medical malpractice lawsuit has to comply with the Statute of Limitations.

The Statute of Limitations is a law that essentially provides a deadline of when you can file you lawsuit.

In Michigan, you typically have two years to file your claim, however there are other laws in place that can influence the deadline, which is why it’s best to speak with someone who fully understands the legal processes. 

Reach out to an attorney as soon as you have gathered all of the necessary documentation and information that supports your claim—the more information, the better! 

Documentation to support your medical malpractice case can include, but is not limited to,

  • Documentation of injuries, i.e. photos, videos, notes
  • Your social security number and any patient ID you may have been issued
  • Proof of your relationship with the medical provider or hospital – this can include a bills, prescription orders, and doctor’s and nurse’s notes 
  • Proof of lost wages, such as a paystub or W-2
  • A list of the medical professionals involved with your claim
  • Copies of any correspondence relating to your diagnosis and injury

It’s helpful to have this information prepared before you meet with an attorney so they can understand the full picture of your claim and furthermore provide you with their best possible outcome for your case. 

If you’ve suffered an injury due to medical negligence then contact the medical malpractice team at Grover Lewis Johnson. 

With over 25 years fighting for hurt patients, they will fight fearlessly for you to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Fill out our intake form to set up a free consultation with one of the attorneys on our medical malpractice team.