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Hospital injuries: Who is responsible?

Posted in Our Blog on March 8, 2018

An injury occurred while you were under the care of a physician at your local hospital. You suffered damages because of your injury, and you want to recover those damages. You believe that the hospital staff and physicians neglected their duty to offer the proper care. What can you do?

It is possible to recover losses that resulted from any form of medical malpractice. At a hospital, there are so many staff and doctors, however, that determining exactly who is at fault could prove rather challenging. Depending on the nature of your injury and which of the hospital staff handled it, either the hospital, the physician or even a pharmaceutical company could be responsible.

Two types of hospital responsibility

A hospital is a corporation, and that corporation can either be directly liable or vicariously liable for the injuries caused by the staff.

  • Direct liability — Direct liability occurs when a hospital is liable for its own carelessness or negligence. One example includes a hospital not ensuring an adequate amount of qualified staff on hand for its patients. Another example of direct liability would be a hospital not performing proper background checks to make sure its physicians and staff are licensed and qualified to practice.
  • Vicarious liability — Vicarious liability occurs when a hospital is liable for the reckless and negligent actions of its employees. Some hospitals hire physicians as independent contractors. Therefore, the hospital isn’t responsible for the negligent actions of those doctors. They can, however, be responsible for granting attending privileges to unqualified physicians.

Pharmaceutical company responsibility

A pharmaceutical company must ensure that the drugs it puts on the market are safe for the consumer and that physicians receive adequate warnings about any potential dangers and side effects. Pharmaceutical companies are typically not responsible to the consumer unless the product was not safe when used as intended. If the drug manufacturer fails to inform physicians about a drug’s dangers, then the pharmaceutical company may be deemed liable.

A doctor is an educated professional, or learned intermediary, and therefore should be informed enough to decide whether a certain drug is appropriate for use. Because of this knowledge and experience, he or she is in the best position to assess the drug’s safety with any particular patient. A doctor also has a duty to inform a patient about all possible risks and dangers of the drug.

Where to turn for support

The nature of the relationship between a patient and medical staff is one of trust. If the negligent actions of doctors or hospital staff broke that trust and caused severe harm to you or a loved one, then you may be entitled to seek damages for your suffering. An experienced attorney can carefully evaluate your circumstances to determine exactly which party may have been at fault, and can fight to pursue the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.