It can be tricky to determine who exactly is at fault when medical malpractice occurs. While it may be assumed that the doctor is automatically at fault, there are so many other people involved in medical procedures. In fact, sometimes the hospital itself can be held accountable for medical mistakes. Here is how to determine if the doctor or hospital is responsible for medical malpractice.
Employee vs. Independent Contractors
Often times, doctors are independent contractors. This means that they are self employed, but are currently working for a specific hospital under a contract. If the doctor is an independent contractor and makes a medical mistake, the blame falls on them specifically. Since they aren’t an official employee of the hospital, the hospital is not responsible for their actions. If a hospital employee causes the medical malpractice (i.e nursing staff, maintenance crew, medical technicians), then the hospital can be held accountable. This is also true if the doctor is an official employee of the hospital, meaning the hospital controls their work hours and vacation time.
In some cases, the hospital can still be held responsible for medical malpractice even if the doctor that made the mistake was an independent contractor. If the patient was not informed that the doctor wasn’t an official employee, they may be able to still sue the hospital. Most hospitals include this information on the patient admissions form in order to ensure that they aren’t held liable.
Patients are more likely to sue the hospital if mistakes occur while in the emergency room. This is because there isn’t typically time to inform a patient that a doctor isn’t an employee when they are coming to the emergency room for urgent care. In other cases, the hospital can be held at fault if they negligently hired an incompetent doctor.
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