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What Makes a Hospital Liable for Its Physicians?


If you’ve ever followed a medical malpractice case, or perhaps even filed a lawsuit against a healthcare provider, you know that these cases can be complex and involve multiple defendants. While your injuries may have been directly caused by a single physician, nurse, or nursing assistant, the hospital and other parties may also be accountable for their actions. Additionally, a hospital may also be held liable for actions of those who are not technically employees, but independent contractors, such as ER physicians.

In this post, our Salt Lake City medical malpractice attorneys discuss the two types of hospital liability – and what it could mean if you decide to file a medical malpractice claim of your own.

The Two Kinds of Hospital Liability

Suing the Hospital as an Employer

There are two primary types of hospital liability under the law. The first has to do with the hospital’s role as an employer, as in the United States, employers are legally accountable for the actions of their employees while on the job (with a few minor exceptions.) This is especially true in the field of healthcare, as practitioners are held to an exceptionally high standard of care with their patients.

Because of this principle, a hospital can be held liable for the actions of the following employee categories:

  • Medical hallway with people walkingPhysicians
  • Surgeons
  • X-ray technicians
  • Physical therapists
  • Nurses
  • Nursing assistants
  • ER assistants
  • Janitors
  • Cafeteria staff
  • Emergency room physicians
  • Independent contractors

Independent contractors are included in this list, but the legal instances where a hospital can be liable for the actions of its contractors are much more complex than those cases involving employees. For a more comprehensive discussion of the ways you can hold a hospital accountable for non-employees, take a look at our previous post on this blog.

Suing the Hospital as an Organization

There is a second category of hospital liability that is less frequently used, but no less important. This is when the hospital itself is responsible for negligence, and you are claiming that the organization as a whole did not meet the standard of care required by law, whether as a result of hiring inappropriate employees or by failing to maintain equipment. While it’s far more common for individuals to pursue a medical malpractice claim under the first category of liability, both can be used to hold individuals and organizations accountable for your injuries.

Some of the most common errors committed by a hospital as such can include:

  • Medical BuildingInappropriately labelling medication
  • Failing to protect patients from infections
  • Hiring inappropriate staff and failing to perform basic safety checks
  • Failing safety protocols for the building
  • Missing an important licensing deadline

If any of the scenarios listed above apply to you, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice suit. However, these cases can be incredibly complicated and technical, and require special notice and pre-litigation hearings. These are just a few of the reasons it’s best to speak with a skilled personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer before you begin your suit in earnest, as they can review your case and identify where negligence truly occurred.

To speak with a Salt Lake City medical malpractice attorney, contact Cutt, Kendell & Olson today for a free consultation. With decades of combined experience fighting against negligent healthcare providers, our legal team can give you the compassionate counsel you need.

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