I'm filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a treating physician. The hospital
had me sign a disclosure upon admitting me that the Doctors are Independent contractors and the hospital is not responsible for their actions. Can the hospital still be held liable for the medical malpractice?
If the hospital staff did something wrong, or if there are other reasons the hospital should carry some responsibility, the hospital can be held liable. The hospital may also be liable for the wrongful retention of the doctor on staff, or wrongfully admitting the doctor to staff privileges. This may not be an exhaustive list. Can't tell much from your factual recital. All these things should be explored with a competent malpractice attorney. We would be happy to consult if you don't yet have an attorney.
The simple answer is yes. In regard to your particular situation, a medical malpractice expert will have to study your particular facts in regard to what actually happened, the causation, if other staff members involved, and if the Doctor was truly an independent contractor. You provide two sentences of general facts describing a most complicated situation. I agree with attorney Antoinette Cara Liewen, you should immediately seek out expert advisement.
The relationship between California hospitals and their doctors is anything but straight forward. To shield each other from the liability, these two entities attempt to create contracts and work arrangements to thwart the agency-principal relationship... sometimes it works, and sometimes it don't. The better and more experienced the plaintiff's attorney is, the better chance of holding the proper defendant(s) liable and not wasting time, energy, and resources on defendants who will not be found liable by virtue of their agent/principal status.
Though many personal injury attorneys handle medical malpractice cases, there are also many who avoid these matters due to the many difficulties. The California legislature has made the legal procedures and rules for medical malpractice cases different from other areas of negligence, and done so with a purpose – that purpose being protection of doctors... and while there are many who see protecting doctors as a bad thing, it is not in and of itself really so... some doctors should be protected while others should not get the extra legal shield afforded by law. Physicians provide an extremely valuable services to the public and one that requires an enormous amount of skill and brain power to provide correctly – all in a field which is not black and white science but science and art combined – lives are at stake, opinions vary, advancements in science abound and continually change the what standard care is, no two patients are alike, etc.
Physicians are not held to a standard of perfection or even to the standard of being the best or even almost the best... They are held to the standard of care for their community and peers.
In addition, medical malpractice cases are extremely expensive and difficult to bring (properly, that is... anyone can slam together an unintelligible complaint and pay the filing fee). To make a suit "worth it," there needs to be significant damages – and damages that would not have occurred otherwise. As a generalized example, a one month delay in treatment, that is just as effective one month later as it would have been earlier is not going to provide significant damages.
Anyone who even thinks he or she has a medical malpractice case should immediately consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Most of us offer free consultations, so there is nothing to fear in calling us. However, a word of caution to someone looking to hire a medical malpractice attorney after suit has been filed, many will shun such a case as it is like taking over the cooking of chili in a Texas chili contest after all of the ingredients are already in the pot.
Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
Fransen & Molinaro, LLP
980 Montecito Drive, Suite 206
Corona, CA 92879
www.fransenandmolinaro.com / www.888MDJDLAW.com
"When you need a lawyer, call the Doctor... Call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D... Call (888)MDJDLAW."
* This post and all others I make on Internet are for informational purposes only. None of the information or materials I post are legal advice. Nothing I post as comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. While I try to be accurate, I do not guarantee accuracy.
** Fransen & Molinaro, LLP practices in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and real estate law.
It really depend on the facts of your case. Yes, hospital's are sued all the time when the primary doctor may be the primary focus. When you say "I " am filing, I sure hope you are represented by counsel. If you represent yourself, your chances are very slim of succeeding. Assuming you are represented by counsel, there are potential claims against the hospital for apparent agency, credentialing issues if the doctor has had numerous claims, and several other instances which would be a reason to sue the hospital. Bottom line, let your attorney make this decision for you.
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