When a medical mistake occurs, who’s to blame? This thought may run through your mind before you arrive for scheduled surgery. Or, suppose a loved one has a life-altering experience in a hospital, due to the actions of a medical professional. You may wonder, can the hospital be held accountable for negligence?
If you’re familiar with legal jargon, you might ask, is there even a difference between hospital negligence and medical malpractice? And, if you’re not, this post will answer these questions — and explain what you can do, as a victim, to hold these larger institutions accountable.
What Is Hospital Negligence and Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a form of negligence. Hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers have a duty to use reasonable care in providing medical services. When they do not, innocent patients can suffer, physically, emotionally, and economically. In the event of medical malpractice, patients and their families may be scared, wondering what life will look like in the future. They may also be angry, unsure of how such an act could have occurred.
When a party who suffered at the hands of hospital and medical personnel files a court claim, the court looks at the case as a medical malpractice suit. This type of litigation requires an attorney who is well-versed in medical matters and has access to a network of expert witnesses who can explain to the jury what occurred, in layman’s terms.
In addition to being legally liable for medical malpractice committed by their doctors and medical personnel, hospitals may also be independently negligent for failing to properly operate and maintain the facility, and for failing to train and supervise the hospital’s employees. Hospital negligence under these circumstances is sometimes called “institutional negligence,” Examples of hospital or institutional negligence include failing to supervise and ensure that care is safely provided in its facility, lack of adequate policies and procedures, an ineffective chain of command, and/or negligent credentialing of physicians, resulting in injury, abuse or death of a patient.
Next, we’ll explore who’s to blame for such negligent behaviors.
Who’s to Blame for Hospital Negligence?
In The Case of Negligent Supervision
In the case of negligent supervision, a hospital governing board may have allowed physicians to perform medical procedures without proper training or qualifications. We have seen this happen in cases where the motive was to charge insurance companies and Medicare for unnecessary procedures, and when hospital officers and managers wanted to help colleagues and friends obtain undeserved hospital privileges.
In these cases, the facility is negligent.
When There is a Lack of Command
Just like in many other occupations, a chain of command in a medical setting is crucial to ensure the quality, safety, and effectiveness of service. If a hospital patient reports misconduct or improper care is taking place, it’s imperative that the facility provide a chain of command to its staff, which can offer a resolution for inappropriate or medically dangerous behavior. If there is not a chain of command, the hospital opens itself up for negligence claims.
If Rules Are Not Established or Enforced
If a hospital does not establish or enforce rules for patient care, horrible things can happen. Perhaps an elderly patient falls, or a vulnerable patient is forced to perform sexual acts. In these cases, the hospital would be negligent for failure to provide governance to its staff. If you suspect you or a loved one has experienced hospital negligence, including when sexual abuse is involved, we highly recommend you seek legal counsel immediately.
When Due Diligence Is Not Exercised
Following COVID-19, the healthcare industry experienced an exodus of workers. Now, many people lament the lack of staffing in clinics and hospitals. However, this does not mean hospitals should bypass credential checks and screenings. In doing so, it opens patients to malpractice, injury, and even death. It is of the utmost importance that health care institutions ensure all members of their staff are properly educated and trained, with the appropriate experience accrued before permissions are granted to treat patients. Without this, the hospital would be negligent in its credentialing process.
How You Can Achieve Justice
A patient has a right to pursue legal action against the medical professional and/or the institution where the negligence occurred. At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, our trusted attorneys can help victims of hospital negligence begin their legal battle with a free consultation. Contact the team today at 312-553-4900 or fill out the online form to have a lawyer contact you.