Medical negligence actions involving care rendered within a hospital pose special issues. Often, the physicians and surgeons who have privileges within a hospital are not actually employed by the hospital. In such cases, the hospital frequently contends that it is nothing more than a “building” in which various independent doctors practice. However, when a physician commits medical malpractice in a hospital, the hospital itself may be responsible for the patient’s injuries. If the physician is employed by the hospital, the hospital may be vicariously liable, just as any employer is ultimately responsible for the work-related wrongs of its employee. Similarly, if the medical negligence is committed by nurses or therapists who are employed by the hospital, the hospital may be held responsible. Where one person acts as the employee of another, both the employee (the “agent”) and the employer (the “principal”) are responsible.
Most people would be surprised to learn that many physicians are not employed by the hospitals in which they practice. In advertisements, or on websites, hospitals may hold out physicians as “our doctors” even when those doctors are not technically hospital employees. In medical malpractice lawsuits involving non-employee physicians, hospitals take the position that they are nothing more than a “building,” and that they are not responsible for the activities of the independent contractor doctors who practice medicine on their premises. However, even when there is no actual employment relationship, the hospital may be responsible. When a patient receives care from a doctor in the reasonable belief that the physician was an employee of the hospital, and where the hospital has held out the physician as an employee, courts may allow recovery on a theory of “apparent agency” or “ostensible agency.” In other words, if the doctor “reasonably appeared” to be an employee, in the eyes of the law, he/she may be considered an employee.
Understanding Our Approach to Medical Malpractice Cases
Simply put, medical professionals are rightfully held to the professional standard practiced by their peers in their specialty field of expertise. A hospital, doctor, or nurse whose conduct or inaction falls below the requisite level of care is liable to injured victims and their families for any resulting injuries caused by the malpractice. Because medical malpractice cases are complex and require attention to detail, our attorneys will review your medical records and consult with nationally renowned experts to get to the bottom of what caused your injuries and damages.
We spare no expense to make sure that your case is given the attention that it deserves. In fact, your case will be personally managed by Slade McLaughlin or Paul Lauricella, and sometimes by Slade and Paul, who work side-by-side, along with their team of associates, to build your case from investigation all the way through trial.
Hospitals can also be held “corporately liable” even in the absence of an actual or apparent agency relationship with a physician. If the hospital fails to check the qualifications of the doctors or nurses who mistreat you, the hospital can be vicariously liable for the acts of those doctors and nurses, and can also be independently liable for having hired them in the first place. Hospitals also have a duty to use reasonable care in the maintenance of safe and adequate facilities and equipment, a duty to oversee all persons who practice medicine within their walls as to patient care, and a duty to formulate, adopt and enforce adequate rules and policies to ensure quality care for their patients. A hospital’s failure to satisfy any of those obligations may render it liable under Pennsylvania law.
For example, in the event of a birth injury, an obstetrician/gynecologist, neonatologist, and the hospital where the infant was delivered and treated may be held liable for any birth trauma that was a result of negligence. Because a physician’s malpractice insurance coverage may not be enough to fully compensate a patient who has been seriously injured, it is essential to consider the hospital itself as a defendant under appropriate circumstances.
If you, or a loved one, believe you were a victim of hospital malpractice, you should reach out to the best lawyers in Philadelphia to protect your legal rights. The attorneys at McLaughlin & Lauricella’s Philadelphia office have decades of record-setting case verdicts, awards and settlements and will provide you with aggressive representation of your legal rights, in, and out of the courtroom.
Slade McLaughlin and Paul Lauricella have extensive experience in medical malpractice matters, and understand how and when to hold hospitals and physicians accountable. Our team of lawyers have the experience, resources, and skills necessary to get you the compensation that you deserve. Please call us at 215-568-1510 or contact us by email, to see what we can do for you.