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Who can be held liable for medical malpractice?

Many North Carolina patients seek treatment from their health care providers under the assumption that they will receive proper and timely treatment due to their care providers' experience and knowledge of medicine. On occasion, however, problems result from inadequate or inappropriate care. When this happens, an individual may suffer financial loss due to negligence by a physician, other medical personnel or due to a hospital error. The individual may be eligible to file a malpractice suit to recover damages.

Malpractice may result when a medical professional makes the wrong diagnosis or treats a patient inadequately or incorrectly; it may also occur if a complication results from the care the individual receives. For instance, if a hospital does not maintain sanitary conditions and a patient develops an infection because of it, the hospital may be considered negligent. Other negligent actions involve dispensing the wrong medication or making mistakes during surgery, or they may happen when a doctor deviates from the accepted standard of care.

In order for a malpractice claim to proceed, a plaintiff must be able to secure a certificate of merit. This is an opinion provided by a medical expert saying that there was indeed a deviation from the standard of care.

A hospital may be named in a malpractice suit in several ways. If the patient was treated by a doctor employed by the hospital, the hospital might be included using the doctrine of 'respondeat superior," which basically indicates that the employer is responsible for the actions of employees when they perform work defined by their employment. If the doctor is an independent contractor, the doctrine does not apply. However, the hospital may still be held liable if they allow doctors who are incompetent to be on staff.

An attorney who is knowledgeable in malpractice law may provide insight into whether a claim might be made against a medical professional or a hospital. Each case is different, so this blog should not be construed as legal advice. Obtaining the guidance an attorney may provide might be beneficial in evaluating the merit of your particular claim.

Source: Findlaw, "Medical Malpractice In-Depth", August 28, 2014

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Who can be held liable for medical malpractice? | Britton Law, P.A.