Can a Florida Hospital Be Liable for Negligence?
According to a recent Modern Healthcare publication, there are approximately 161,250 preventable deaths that occur in US hospitals every year. Based upon what you may know about medical malpractice, you might assume that the hospital would be liable for the medical errors that cause these fatalities. However, hospital negligence is somewhat different from the laws that apply to individual healthcare providers. Plus, it can be difficult to determine which party was ultimately responsible when there can be overlap in the hospital environment.
Getting to the bottom of the story on hospital versus doctor negligence is complicated, which is why it is important to retain a Florida hospital negligence attorney to tackle the challenges. Some general information may also help you understand key legal issues.
Theories of Liability in Hospital Negligence Claims: As a practical matter, hospital negligence is the failure of the facility to provide a level of care in accordance with reasonably acceptable standards. The specific theories that may give rise to a negligence claim against the hospital include:
- Respondeat Superior: This Latin term translates into having the principal answer for the wrongful acts of the agent, or the employer taking responsibility for the misconduct of an employee. A hospital can be accountable for the negligent acts of nurses, medical technicians, orderlies, lab personnel, and other support staff, but only if the patient was injured while the employee was performing job-related tasks at the time.
- Negligent Hiring: A hospital is required to use reasonable judgment and conduct a diligent investigation when hiring staff. For current employees, the hospital must take proper action if administrators know or should have known about the dangers an individual presents for patients.
- Inadequate Staffing: Hospitals are required to ensure that there is sufficient staff on duty at all times to support the needs of patients. If understaffing impacts quality patient care, there may be a situation of hospital negligence.
Hospitals Liability for Physician Negligence: People commonly presume that hospitals are liable for the negligent acts and omissions of doctors that provide treatment at the facility, but this is typically not the case. Most physicians function as independent contractors when caring for patients in the hospital setting, so a medical error by the provider doesn’t always mean the hospital is negligent.
There are exceptions to this theory including where the relationship between the hospital and the physician creates the impression that the parties are employer-employee. A hospital will usually make it clear on admissions forms that the doctor is an independent contractor.
Talk to a Florida Hospital Negligence Lawyer About Your Options
Seeking damages for hospital negligence is difficult because of the blurred lines among doctors, employees, and administrators as potential parties. Our Florida hospital negligence lawyers at Freidin Brown, P.A. are prepared to take on the tough legal issues and get the compensation you deserve as an injured victim or surviving family member. Please contact our offices to set up a free consultation with a member of our team. We can explain your rights and remedies once we review your specific case details.