Medical malpractice happens when a patient gets substandard or wrong treatment due to medical error or negligence. It can occur during diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, medication dosage, or health management.
Medical malpractice can lead to harm, injury, or death for a patient and cause unimaginable loss or trauma to the affected family. According to medical malpractice law, when you or your relative becomes a medical malpractice victim, you need compensation for the damages and losses.
But before claiming any compensation, the medical malpractice suit must provide fault that proves personal injury. The demonstration must show that the medical worker, doctor, or facility you trust with your health is directly responsible for the harm or death.
But who can be held liable for medical malpractice in Houston, TX?
The hospital where the patient got treatment can be held liable for medical malpractice. A patient can sue a private or public hospital for medical malpractice. They should be able to provide enough proof to blame the facility directly.
Alternatively, the hospital can be vicariously liable for their employee’s negligence. When a hospital is vicariously liable for medical malpractice, it is held responsible for the negligence of another party.
Below is how the two take place:
For a hospital to be operational, its management has to ensure the staff is professional and qualified. The hospital must have licensed physicians and other healthcare providers, such as nurses.
Also, before hiring medical staff and putting up the hospital, the management should follow due procedure and provide a conducive environment for patients. It must also ask about the applicant’s licensing, training, and education.
The hospital can be held responsible for direct negligence according to medical malpractice actions if:
- Suppose the hospital hires medical staff without sufficient inquiries. The hospital can face charges under the “corporate negligence” doctrine for negligent retention or supervision. This is after the unqualified staff member’s negligence injures a patient.
- The hospital might be held liable for failing to authenticate the healthcare worker’s credentials before allowing them privileges to serve at the hospital. It can also be held responsible for allowing an incompetent physician to handle patients.
- The hospital can be liable for medical malpractice if it doesn’t offer quality patient care. Remember, it’s the hospital’s responsibility to provide enough registered healthcare workers to be on duty at the facility all the time. If it fails, it can be held liable for a patient’s injury or mistreatment because of a nursing shortage.
- The hospital may also be liable when employees don’t follow the orders from a private physician attending to the patient. Or if the hospital’s employee knows that the personal physician’s treatment plan is contraindicated and fails to make necessary inquiries about it.
- A hospital can also be liable when the facility is hazardous or widely unsanitary, leading to a patient’s injury.
The facility may be vicariously liable for medical malpractice if a hospital employee injures a patient. The hospital will be liable under the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior,” which makes employers responsible for the negligent acts of their employees.
This happens if a negligent act or medical error occurs while the employee is at the hospital. Most plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases rely on this doctrine to help them determine a financially responsible party for compensation.
However, there are instances when healthcare workers like physicians are not considered hospital employees but independent contractors. In this case, the “respondent superior” doctrine is not applicable.
Independent contractors or healthcare professionals are liable for malpractice when treating patients in a hospital. The hospital won’t be responsible for the doctor’s negligence. Hence, no one can sue the facility.
However, there are instances when the hospital can be directly or vicariously liable for medical malpractice committed by independent contractors. This is if the hospital agrees with the contractors to control emergency rooms or outpatient facilities.
Another person who can be held liable for medical malpractice is the pharmaceutical industry. The pharmaceutical company may be liable after its drug causes injury to a patient. This happens if the company doesn’t warn physicians of their drugs’ side effects or harm.
However, the pharmaceutical manufacturer may not be liable for a patient’s injury. The pharmaceutical company ensures the drug it manufactures is safe for the patient when used correctly. The manufacturers are responsible for the drug’s safety by researching its side effects and risks before releasing it to the market.
But the company is responsible for telling the physician about every drug’s risks. Failure to do so makes the drug “unreasonably dangerous” under the product liability law. In this case, the manufacturer can be held liable for not providing the right warning to the physicians, causing harm to the patients.
Physicians can also be held liable for medical malpractice. Doctors perform various functions in a hospital that leave them vulnerable to making mistakes. If a doctor misdiagnoses a patient or fails to diagnose a serious illness, it wastes treatment time.
The patient might undergo painful treatment for a disease they don’t have or not go for life-saving tests. A doctor might also fail to give the patient the correct information about their medical condition and its treatment. All these can make the doctor liable for medical malpractice.
However, there are instances when the doctor is held responsible for nurses’ or other healthcare employees’ actions. Such happens if the healthcare staff working under them causes medical error or negligence on the patient.
A patient can also sue a nurse for medical malpractice. Remember, nurses undertake several medical treatment duties daily in hospitals. The nurse’s main responsibility is to interpret the doctor’s instructions, monitor patients, and provide them with a conducive environment.
However, when the nurses fail to follow the doctor’s instructions or give the wrong medication to the patient, they can be liable for medical malpractice. A patient can also sue a nurse after they are not attended to or exposed to environmental hazards that cost their lives.
A radiologist can be liable for medical malpractice if they misinterpret or miscommunicate the test results to the doctor. When the radiologists fail to deliver, the patient has to wait longer, affecting their treatment time. Lost time can cause death or seriously affect the patient, and the radiologist may be liable.
Pharmacists may also be held accountable for medical malpractice. For a patient to sue a pharmacist, they must show proof that they gave wrong prescriptions leading to injury or causing adverse harm. It could be that the pharmacists gave the patient the wrong medication or the right medication with the wrong dose.
Surgeons can also be held liable for medical malpractice. If a surgeon leaves a medical supply in a patient and sews it inside their body during surgery, it makes them or accountable for such actions.
At times, a surgeon can also operate on the wrong body part. For example, cutting off the patient’s limb instead of operating the heart. Operating on a patient in an unsafe area or negligent manner also may attract compensation after getting sued.
Operating on the wrong patient, damaging other organs during the operation, or failing to diagnose a post-operative infection is up to the surgeon. So, a surgeon who doesn’t work with precision and care may be liable for malpractice.
A dentist administers anesthesia to patients and uses different equipment for various procedures. If a dentist mis-administers anesthesia or uses unsafe equipment on patients, they may be held responsible for the outcome.
Additionally, the dentist can misdiagnose or offer the wrong treatment, making the patient endure pain. The patient can suffer brain damage after a severe infection spreads to that part, resulting in unplanned emergency surgery.
Anesthesiologists use powerful substances that require care and frequent monitoring to deliver the expected results. If an anesthesiologist fails to follow the stipulated rules when handling a patient, their lives are in danger.
The professional might give the wrong dosage or fail to monitor the patient while under anesthesia, leading to adverse effects. The patient can suffer brain damage, die, or wake up before the medical procedure is over. Such a patient can sue the anesthesiologist, making them liable for medical malpractice.
The Legal Conditions that Hold One Liable for Medical Malpractice
For a patient to sue any of the above individuals and have them liable for a medical malpractice lawsuit, there must be:
The patient must prove that the healthcare worker or employee is responsible for their injury or death. There must be a documented patient-doctor relationship with the doctor in question.
The law doesn’t recognize a casual chit-chat with a doctor as a patient-doctor relationship. So, it can’t be used to file a lawsuit.
Proof of Doctor’s Negligence
The patient must also prove that the doctor or healthcare worker was negligent while on duty resulting in injury or death. For a doctor to be negligent, it means they didn’t meet specific medical standards or care, harming the patient.
It should be a case when it’s something that the doctor could avoid. However, if a doctor remains skilled and careful while on duty but the patient or relative isn’t happy with the results, that is not negligence.
Prove How the Doctor’s Negligence Caused Injury
Additionally, the patient must prove that the doctor’s negligence hurt them. Providing such evidence can be tricky when the patient is seriously ill, and there is no one to document the occurrence.
Show how the doctor’s incompetent actions led to the patient’s injury or death. Without proof of doctors’ negligence or incompetence while on duty, the healthcare worker might not be held liable.
Provide Quantifiable Damages
To get compensated, the patient must provide enough proof that the doctor’s negligent actions led to quantifiable damages. The patient or their relatives must show evidence like medical bills or reports, lost work, or earning capabilities. The injuries can be mental or physical, like pain or loss of body parts.
Who Is Liable for Medical Malpractice When More Than One Party is Involved?
If more than one party is involved in medical malpractice, each healthcare worker directly involved in the patient’s injury is held liable. The comparative negligence law assigns each responsible person a percentage of responsibilities per their conduct.
Such a law proves that more than one healthcare worker can be involved in medical malpractice. This is because medical treatment occurs in stages and involves various medical staff. The stages include intake, diagnosis, pre-treatment, consultations, and follow-ups.
For example, a nurse can make a mistake after the doctor gives them the wrong direction regarding a patient’s dosage. Both the nurse and doctor may be liable for malpractice, depending on the surrounding factors.
The lawsuit can question the nurse’s skill levels after she failed to recognize the doctor’s error in the dosage. On the other hand, the doctor will be liable for misdirecting the nurse and injuring the patient.
Most malpractice cases happen during the diagnosis stage, and there are several ways to determine the person liable for the damages. So, the whole team of healthcare workers who might have handled a particular patient on a specific day can be traced. After that, each is held liable for the victim’s damages.
Each staff member will pay an amount equal to the damage caused to the victim. The doctrine of comparative negligence helps determine the comparative damage caused by each employee, reducing the total percentage paid by every responsible healthcare employee.
Do You Need an Attorney to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Even though medical malpractice claims are amongst the complicated lawsuits filed in Houston, TX, you can win against the medical healthcare worker or facility. It would be best if you got the right attorney to represent you in court and get compensated on time.
The attorney can hold the doctor, hospital, nurse, or pharmaceutical company liable for medical malpractice. But there are instances when pharmacists, dentists, radiologists, surgeons, or anesthesiologists can be responsible for medical malpractice.
The attorneys help you get compensation after understanding how the medical error occurred. The injury or damage must also be quantifiable for the attorney to press charges.
Work with a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Houston, TX
When you or your patient suffers injuries or damages related to malpractice, contact Terry Bryant Accident and Injury Law Firm. The medical malpractice attorney from this law firm has years of experience holding healthcare workers or doctors liable for their negligence.
You might get compensated after we determine the validity of the case. Our team conducts in-depth research and builds your chances of getting your rightful compensation.