Hospitals can be liable for birth injuries in one of two ways. First, a hospital can be liable for birth injuries if it has acted negligently and the hospital’s negligence caused the birth injury. Second, if one of the hospital’s employees acts negligently while acting in the scope of his/her employment, the hospital would be vicariously liable because a hospital employee is an agent of the hospital.
Hospitals can be liable for birth injuries if they are negligent in hiring their physicians who commits the injury to the patient. Hospitals have a duty to make reasonable inquiries into the applicants’ education and credentials before they are hired to perform medical duties for the hospital. Hospitals may also be negligent if they knew or should have known that the physician, whom they hired, was not qualified or competent to perform the duties of a medical practitioner, but was allowed to treat patients anyway.
Hospitals may be liable for birth injuries if they fail to maintain sufficient number of registered nurses to assist in maintaining the quality of care for the patients. Another way that hospitals can be liable is if the employees of the hospital fail to comply with the orders of the patient’s attending primary care physician. Conversely, if the employees of the hospital feel that the attending physician’s treatment plan is not medically correct, they have the duty to make an inquiry to the physician regarding the treatment plan. Otherwise, the hospital can be liable for the injuries that result from the flawed treatment plan.
Vicarious Liability – Employee Negligence
Under the doctrine of “respondeat superior” hospitals can be liable for the medical malpractice committed by their employees. If the hospital’s employees are acting within the scope of their employment, they are acting as agents of the hospital. Therefore, any mistakes made by the employee that causes birth injury to a patient is treated as if the hospital made the mistake. However, if a contract physician, who is not directly employed by the hospital, commits the medical malpractice the hospital is not vicariously liable for the mistakes that he/she commits.
In some states, the state run hospitals that employ residents and interns to their staff of physicians are statutorily protected from being vicariously liable for the malpractice that is committed by student physicians. Although these hospitals are not completely immune from vicarious liability, the law protects them by limiting the amount that can be collected from the hospital in case medical malpractice is committed by one of the student physicians. If you or someone you love has has an unfortunate incident with medical negligence contact a personal injury lawyer.