Mention the term “medical negligence,” and most people think of doctors or other healthcare providers making mistakes or failing to provide proper care that meets specific basic standards. But sometimes, it’s the hospital itself, and not the healthcare provider, that’s at fault — and sometimes, it’s both. Identifying who’s at fault, as well as each party’s “level” of negligence, is at the heart of any successful medical negligence or malpractice claim. But often, that determination can be complicated. Here’s a quick review of what’s involved:
Independent Contractor vs. Employee
Hospitals may be liable for their employees’ negligence, but there’s a common misconception that they’re not necessarily liable for negligent acts committed by an independent contractor.
Most doctors who practice at hospitals are independent contractors while nurses, paramedics, EMTs and most other healthcare providers are direct employees of the hospital. Either way, the hospital can bear responsibility in cases where doctors engage in negligence or malpractice – they often have a certain level of corporate responsibility, which can come into play in medical negligence cases.
For example, hospitals can be held liable for injuries caused by doctors, even if the doctors are independent contractors, because hospitals have the ultimate say in who is allowed to practice medical care at their facility. Hospitals also have a huge amount of input into how medicine is practiced at its facility. In order to be accredited, every hospital has to have rules in place that protect the safety of patients. If such rules are not in place or not being enforced, the hospital can be held accountable.
Additionally, hospitals may be held responsible for how they react to an adverse event that occurs in their facility. For example, if a doctor is negligent in the care of a patient, the hospital should have certain protocol that they follow for disciplinary measures and to ensure that similar mistakes do not happen to patients in the future. Failure to have a protocol in place that investigates, reports, and corrects an adverse event can be something that the hospital is held legally liable for in the case of medical negligence in their facility.
Of course, a hospital can also be held liable for negligent acts that caused injury, but which were not related to medical care. For instance, suppose a hospital employee spills a liquid on the floor and a person slips and becomes injured; since the injury was not caused by malpractice, the injured person would file a claim of “simple” negligence instead of medical negligence.
Understand Your Rights
Medical malpractice cases can be very complex, and the injuries caused by medical negligence can be financially devastating. That’s why it’s essential to work side-by-side with a skilled, experienced medical malpractice lawyer right from the start.
The Mellino Law Firm is recognized as a top medical malpractice law firm in Cleveland and the surrounding region, with a history of helping clients protect their rights and receive the compensation they deserve.
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for filing a medical negligence claim is one year from the date of the injury or from when the plaintiff first became aware of the injury. If you wait too long, your rights may be forfeited. Take that first step toward protecting your rights today. Call the Mellino Law Firm at (440) 333-3800 and schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.