When to Sue a Hospital

Hospital negligence and/or negligence by one of its employees that results in injury are sound grounds on which to sue a hospital. These types of claims do come with a hefty cost, so it is important that your compensation claim can fully cover attorney fees. It is also important to factor in non-economic losses. Only cases that stand a chance are taken forward by experienced personal injury attorneys.

One of the key points that you will need to bear in mind is that suing a hospital for medical malpractice can be a long road. This is because the amount of money involved will force insurance carriers to put up a fierce fight. Such a fight can drag on for months or even years, resulting in high attorney fees. When you are fully aware of the stakes that are involved, you will know what you stand to lose or gain, and whether you are prepared to see the fight to the end.

Who Is Liable?

Another important point to consider is whether the professional that is guilty of the medical malpractice is an employee at the hospital. Doctors are not considered employees and are termed as “independent contractors.” This means that the hospital cannot be held accountable for any damages that patients may suffer. However, this is not taken as a general rule, and each situation will be carefully analyzed. If the hospital has a contractual agreement that identifies the doctor or medical professional as an “employee” then you can sue for medical practice.

If it is found that the doctor in question is negligent and has a history of disciplinary measures or previous lawsuits for medical malpractice, then you can also take your case forward. In these situations, the hospital will be held accountable for the hiring and maintaining an individual that has demonstrated some degree of incompetence in their professional roles. This puts patients’ health at risk as well, and also exposes the institution to different lawsuits. It is highly unlikely that you can win a lawsuit battle a hospital if it can be found that no harm was done.

A hospital must ensure that all staff and even independent contractors have the proper education, license and experience to handle patients. Graduates and new staff must be placed under the supervision of experienced professionals to ensure they get the proper training and are not left to handle issues that only someone with years of experience can undertake. If you find otherwise and are injured in the process, then you have the right to sue for medical malpractice. Hospitals must also ensure that appropriate equipment and the ideal staff/patient ratio is maintained. In other words, it should not accept patients if it does not have the equipment or staff to handle the demand. You can also sue on these grounds as well. If more than one party is guilty of negligence, it may also be possible to sue all of the parties, including the hospital.

Informed Consent

Before a patient is hospitalized they will have to sign an informed consent that outlines the risks and potential benefits involved. They will have to sign to make it clear that they agree with the document. This document can be used in court if the outcome of the procedure falls within the acceptable risks. When this happens, patients cannot sue the hospital because they were informed about the risks and benefits prior to undergoing the surgery.  However, if they develop complications and sustain injuries that were never outlined, then it is possible to sue for compensation. For ER operations, there is usually little time for the patient to sign the informed consent or be informed about the fact that the doctors are not employees at the hospital. If there are any signs of negligence then the hospital is liable for damages.

Is It Medical Malpractice?

Patients that eventually recover from the injuries sustained may not necessarily have a strong case to sue a hospital. The argument that the defendant will use is that no harm was committed. A surgery that does not go as expected and where the patient is not as well as they would like does not indicate that malpractice was committed. For your case to stand out in court, your medical malpractice attorney must prove that the employee at the hospital or even the hospital itself fell below the standard of care. It must also be evident that such an outcome caused serious losses and complications. To arrive at this conclusion, patients and their medical malpractice lawyers will try to answer the questions below to see if the case is worth taking further:

1)      Did the patient develop medical complications from the negligence by medical staff employed by the hospital?

2)      Was there anything within the hospital that could have compounded the issue (i.e. a hospital infection)?

3)      Will the patient have to receive future medical care to treat the injuries and losses sustained due to medical negligence?

4)      Are there clear obvious signs that the normal standard of care required by a trained professional was overlooked?

5)      Does the medical professional have previous malpractice lawsuits?

6)      What other losses can be outlined?

It is not uncommon to find a hospital being sued even though it was the employee that is guilty of medical malpractice. The reason for this is obvious: a hospital can cover large lawsuits more easily than an individual practitioner.

It is also important to know state requirements for medical lawsuits. Sometimes it is not as simple as filling out a few papers and walking into court the next morning. You may need to show that you have a valid case by getting a medical expert to analyze it first before moving forward with a lawsuit. Additionally, a medical review board may also have to provide its input. If the hospital tries to settle outside of court, then this must also be documented with the reason for possible disagreement with offered proposal.


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One Response to “When to Sue a Hospital”

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  1. Kimberly woods says:

    I was in a hospital August 3,4 2013 rushed to er unresponsive I’ve had a history of sexual abuse and had a male nurse putting a cathatar in me saying .. Here kitty kitty , and my iv ran out no one came to change it and the blood pressure cuff was supposed to be set for every 30 minutes after over an hour my mother had to ask them what’s going on how come that machine has not taken her blood pressure.’oh we forgot to turn it on” it was very high after that.

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