Medical Malpractice – Who Can Be Sued?
Medical malpractice occurs when you are injured by a medical professional because of their poor service, lack of expertise, or poor decision-making. Essentially, if your doctor, therapist, nurse, or any other person who is providing you with medical care makes a mistake or a poor decision, and you are injured because of it, then you may have a case for medical malpractice.
While you may realize that you can sue your doctor, you may not realize the wide array of other entities that may also be involved in a medical malpractice suit.
First, it is important to remember that there must be a doctor-patient relationship in a medical malpractice case. That essential rule applies to any type of medical professional involved in the case.
The medical professional must be “your nurse” or “your doctor.” This person cannot be someone who you know personally who just happens to be a doctor, for example.
The Doctors and Other Medical Professionals
Anyone who gives you medical care can be liable for medical malpractice. That includes everyone from the nurse to the anesthesiologist to the surgeon.
Even the medical technicians who do blood work can be a party in a medical malpractice suit. If you are given the wrong prescription, you could even sue the pharmacist who filled the prescription incorrectly.
It is important to understand that you can sue more than just the doctor involved in your particular situation. For example, nurses are often directly in charge of caring for patients. They may work with a doctor, but the nurse is the major player in your hospital care.
A nurse still has professional duties that he or she must follow. Like doctors, they also have licensing requirements and certain standards that they must uphold.
There are even nursing agencies that may also be the subject of a medical malpractice suit if the hospital is using nurses that do not work for the hospital, but do work for a particular agency.
Suing the Hospital for Medical Malpractice
In some situations, you can also sue the hospital for the actions of the doctor or other medical professional. Generally speaking, when any type of employee is working or acting on behalf of their employer, then the employer can also be liable or any mistake that the employee may make.
This is based on the fact that the employee is considered an “agent” of the employer, and anything that the employee does represents the employer. There are certain exceptions to this rule, however, so it is important to talk to a knowledgeable attorney to determine whom you should sue in that type of situation.
This general rule also applies to hospitals. If an employee hurts someone while doing his or her job, then the hospital can be liable (or responsible). It is important that the employee be acting in their capacity as an employee—if they were acting outside of their employee responsibilities then the hospital may not be brought into the lawsuit.
Suing the Doctor and the Hospital
Many people do not realize that some doctors aren’t really hospital employees. Instead, some act as independent contractors. This allows the doctor to control more of their “practice”—including the hours and patients they choose to work with each day.
Nurses, medical technicians, and paramedics are generally hospital employees, which means that the hospital could be sued for any of their mistakes, but possibly not the doctor’s mistake. Instead, the patient would have to sue the doctor directly, and the hospital may or may not be involved in the suit.
Further, if the employee is working under the doctor’s supervision, then the hospital may escape liability as well. Instead, the doctor may be directly liable for the employee, depending on the facts of the specific situation. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule.
Getting the Parties Right with the Help of Medical Malpractice Attorney
Who you can sue in a medical malpractice case can vary greatly depending on the unique circumstances of the case. It is important to sue the right parties or you could lose the entire case based on a simple technicality. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you determine who should be involved in your medical malpractice suit.