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Can hospitals be held liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit?

Flu season may be on the downswing in Illinois, but every day people across the state can still come down with a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. Sometimes rest at home and a bowl of chicken soup is all that is needed for a sick person to regain their health. However, other times a person becomes severely ill, necessitating a hospital stay.

When a person is treated at a hospital, they expect the physicians will treat them with the highest standard of care. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen and a person becomes sicker due to a physician's negligence. Our readers may already be aware that in such situation it may be possible to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible doctor. However, when the incident takes place in a hospital, are there any other potential defendants?

Sometimes, the hospital itself can be held responsible for medical malpractice if the facility was negligent. For example, it could have hired incompetent staff or failed to train staff properly. It may not have enough staff members on duty or may not supervise them properly. In situations like this, a medical malpractice victim might want to learn more about whether the hospital can be sued for "corporate negligence."

In addition, sometimes the hospital can be held responsible for the negligence of its employees through the theory of vicarious liability, also known as "respondeat superior." Under this theory, employers are responsible for their employees' negligence if the employee commits the negligent act within the scope of job duties. Keep in mind that if a physician is not an employee of the hospital, but rather works there as an independent contractor, then vicarious liability may not apply.

In the end, it is important to hold all responsible parties liable in medical malpractice cases. No one deserves to be further injured or made ill by the very people they trust to make them better. However, determining who should be held responsible is not always straightforward. Fortunately, people contemplating a medical malpractice lawsuit can discuss their situation with a personal injury attorney, who can advise them on how to move forward.

Source: FindLaw, "Medical Malpractice: Who Can Be Sued?," accessed March 20, 2018

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