People in Texas have probably heard that medical malpractice is the area of law that applies when negligence is alleged in a health care context. In a traditional medical malpractice case, an injured patient will bring a case against a doctor, whose negligence allegedly caused the patient’s injury. Many cases are brought against physicians and surgeons alleging medical malpractice. But, physicians and surgeons are not the only possible defendants in a medical malpractice case.
Hospitals are often sued and held liable in medical malpractice cases. One scenario where this could happen is if a hospital fails to make reasonable inquiries into the training, education and licensing of applicants for the positions of nurses, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners and other staff members. If a hospital fails to make such a reasonable inquiry, and a hospital staff member’s negligent care causes injury to a patient, there is a possibility that the hospital could be found liable for negligent supervision of its employees. Further, hospitals are required to have sufficient nurses and other staff members to handle the needs of the hospital’s patients. If a hospital fails to make sure that there are enough staff members available, the hospital could be liable for resulting injuries suffered by patients.
A hospital could also be held liable for the negligence of an employee under a theory of vicarious liability. This can apply when an employee engages in negligent conduct in the scope of their employment with the hospital. This means that there could be a defendant that is financially able to pay damages to a plaintiff.
There are other possible defendants in malpractice cases. When a patient suffers personal injury attributable to the negligence of a doctor, hospital or other party, it could behoove that patient to educate themselves about their legal options to seek compensation.