If you are injured in a healthcare setting, you may be wondering whom you can sue for medical malpractice. Can you sue your doctor? Can you sue the hospital where you were treated? Can you sue both?
In Pennsylvania, you can sue both the doctor and the hospital under the same and/or different claims. In order to understand the possible claims, let’s first define medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a negligence claim in the context of medicine. This means that if you have been injured because of what a doctor, nurse, or any healthcare professional has done (or has not done, but should have), then you might have a valid medical malpractice lawsuit.
Suing the Doctor
A doctor is liable for medical malpractice when they had a duty to provide you a certain level of care, they failed to meet that duty, and their failure to fulfill their duty to you caused you to be injured. An example could be a radiologist who fails to notice a cancerous tumor when reading your x-ray slides, resulting in you suffering from a worse prognosis than if they had properly read your slides in the first place. Or maybe your general practitioner improperly diagnosed your abdominal pain as indigestion when in fact it was appendicitis, causing you to suffer a greater infection and injury than if the appendicitis was correctly diagnosed when you first treated with your doctor. In these instances, the doctor could be sued for medical malpractice for their failure to fulfill their duty to you and for causing your injuries.
Suing the Hospital
There are multiple different avenues for suing a hospital for medical malpractice.
Vicarious liability. A hospital can be liable to a patient for their injury when its employee (e.g., a doctor, nurse, etc.) commits the error that caused that injury. This concept is called “vicarious liability” – it occurs when a business or organization is held liable for the actions or inactions of its employees.
Hospital negligence. In addition to being subject to a lawsuit for the errors of its employees (vicarious liability), a hospital can be sued for its own errors. If the hospital, itself, as an institution, makes mistakes, it could be held liable for medical malpractice. A hospital could be negligent in many ways:
This area of the law is very case-specific and needs to be analyzed by an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Determining the exact claims against the doctor and the hospital is an important strategic consideration that only a medical malpractice specialist can perform. If you or your loved one was injured in a hospital setting, contact a medical malpractice specialist at VSCP Law.
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