Medical malpractice is not limited to doctors alone. It is possible for other employees at a hospital to be responsible for birth injuries and other acts of malpractice. For instance, anesthesiologists, nurses and others could potentially be at fault in a malpractice case. Due to this possibility, it is possible to sue a hospital for the acts of its employees.
However, whether or not it is possible to sue the hospital itself depends on multiple factors. According to FindLaw, in some cases it is possible to sue a hospital under the doctrine of “respondeat superior.”
What is respondeat superior?
This is a Latin phrase that translates to “let the master answer.” This principle means that in certain circumstances the hospital may be responsible for the errors of its staff. This is also called “vicarious liability.”
For respondeat superior to apply, three things must be true. The first is that malpractice occurred when a hospital employee was working on the clock at the hospital. The second is that said employee was conducting an action that the hospital hired the employee to perform at the time of injury. The third is that the hospital benefited from the employee’s actions at the time of injury. If all three things are true, it is possible to sue the hospital for malpractice, and not just individual doctors and employees.
When does this not apply?
When somebody sues a hospital for medical malpractice, the most common defense is that the employee in question was not acting within his or her employment scope. Additionally, it is possible that a doctor is an independent contractor and not an employee. If the doctor is an independent contractor, then the hospital is not responsible for the contractor’s conduct.