When we go into the hospital, we trust that it is sanitary, that its equipment is up to date, and that it is staffed with qualified medical professionals. We are, essentially, handing our health and safety over to people we have never met before. Just like doctors, hospitals and other medical care facilities have a legal obligation to act in a patient’s best interests. This is called a “duty of care.” If the hospital and its employees don’t act in a patient’s best interests and this causes a patient harm, they may have been negligent and, therefore, violated their duty of care. And, like most institutions, a hospital or any other medical care facility can be sued if a patient can prove it was negligent.
Who’s at Fault?
A hospital is responsible for the staff it hires, including its nurses, orderlies, and other employees, and can almost always be sued for the negligence of these persons. However, most doctors, surgeons, and anesthesiologists are not directly employed by the hospital, and are considered “independent contractors.” If an independent contractor is at fault for your injury, you generally cannot sue the hospital, although there are many exceptions to this rule.
Examples of Hospital Negligence
Unfortunately, because hospitals are complex organizations that are operated by numerous employees, there are many opportunities for negligence to take place. The following are some examples:
- Improper filing of a patient’s paperwork
- Losing patient information (e.g., charts, paperwork)
- Failing to keep adequate and accurate patient records
- Mixing up a patient’s information
- Failing to adequately train staff
- Being understaffed
- Failing to ensure that employees and independent contractors have the proper credentials (e.g., licenses)
- Negligence in hiring (e.g., failure to do thorough criminal background checks)
- Failing to get informed consent for surgery
- Prescription errors (e.g., wrong medication, overmedication, under-medication)
- Diagnostic errors (e.g., misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, delay of diagnosis.)
- Surgical errors (e.g., wrong procedure, wrong body part, wrong patient, foreign object left in body)
- Slip and falls
- Neglect resulting in bedsores or infections
- Birth injuries
- Giving wrong infant to parents
- Using defective, inappropriate, or unsterilized equipment
- Providing incorrect lab results or improper interpretation of lab results
- Delay in treatment (often occurs in emergency rooms)
- Improper treatment of wounds, illnesses, or other conditions
Hospital Negligence Statistics
Unfortunately, hospital negligence is not uncommon, and it is significantly underreported. Of note:
- Each year in America, over 4,000 patients will be injured by surgical errors.
- 59% of these patients will suffer temporary injury, 33% will suffer permanent injury, and 6.6% will die.
- Surgical errors account for 34% of all hospital negligence lawsuits.
- Approximately 20% of all hospital negligence victims are newborns.
- Only about 14% of all healthcare mistakes are reported.
- Approximately 50% of all doctors fail to disclose medical errors.
Why You Need an Experienced Hospital Malpractice Attorney
If you or someone you care about has been injured because of hospital negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for the injury, including payment for any financial loss, inconvenience, disfigurement, or pain and suffering that you have endured. However, hospital malpractice claims are complex endeavors, and require knowledge, not only of the medicine, but also of this unique area of law. If you believe you may have a claim against a hospital, and want nearly 40 years of experience on your side, call Orlando’s law offices of Faiella & Gulden, P.A., for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (407) 647-6111.
We require no legal retainer or upfront fees, and you pay nothing unless we prevail. Call us for your free consultation.