Understanding Liability in a Wrongful Death LawsuitJanuary 22, 2020
If a patient dies after receiving medical treatment at a hospital, the surviving family members may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit if they believe negligence was involved. Depending on the details of the case, the family members may sue the negligent doctor and the hospital. However, that is not always the best course of action to take. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can work closely with the surviving family members and recommend the best legal course of action.
Oftentimes, physicians and nurses are considered independent contractors rather than employees of a hospital. If this is the case, a hospital will not be held liable for a health care provider’s negligence. However, the following are two of the most common ways in which a hospital would likely be held liable for a patient’s death:
- The negligent health care provider is an employee of the hospital
- The hospital was negligent in how it hired and supervised its employees, failed to properly maintain or repair equipment, or poorly managed the medical care at the hospital
Determining whether a health care provider is an employee of the hospital or an independent contractor is a complex issue. A medical malpractice lawyer will need to closely examine the contract between the physician and the hospital to gain a clear understanding of how much control the hospital had over the health care provider’s job performance. Legally, the more control the hospital has over the physician, the more likely it is that the hospital will be held liable, even if the physician is technically an independent contractor.
Examples of Negligence
The following are examples of the most common types of physician negligence:
- Medical misdiagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Prescription errors, including prescribing and administering errors
- Negligence affecting pregnancy and childbirth
Nurses are responsible for a wide range of duties from checking a patient’s vitals to administering medication. A mistake can cause serious health complications. The following nursing errors can result in a wrongful death:
- Failure to properly monitor a patient’s vital signs
- Administering an incorrect medication or dose
- Administering a medication too soon or too late
- Failure to report new or suspicious symptoms to the physician overseeing the patient’s case
The following are examples of hospital negligence:
- Failure to ensure that their health care providers are properly licensed and have a proven history of safe and competent patient care
- Failure to establish and enforce safety protocols
- Record of unsatisfactory patient safety
A medical malpractice lawyer will work with the surviving family to determine the best legal strategy, and whether it is in their best interest to sue the hospital, the health care provider, or both. To avoid facing a team of lawyers that represent the hospital, a medical malpractice lawyer will likely discourage the family from suing the hospital if the doctor has enough malpractice coverage. However, if the family plans to sue both parties, they should be made aware that there will be two defense attorneys working hard to defend their client.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect Victims of Medical Negligence
If your health was compromised due to the negligence of a health care professional, contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. We will determine who is liable for your loved one’s death and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your loss. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.