Can I Sue a Hospital for Negligence?

Can I Sue a Hospital for Negligence?

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Can I Sue a Hospital for Negligence?

You have options to sue a hospital if you receive the wrong treatment, the facilities staff make the wrong decisions, or if a close family member passes away while in their care. If you're asking the question, "c\Can I sue a hospital for negligence?" — one of these scenarios has likely already happened to you, and you're looking for answers. You have the legal right to receive compensation for your injuries if it was caused by medical error.

To sue a hospital for medical negligence, you need to be prepared with evidence that proves the hospital's liability for your injury. In many cases, this will require help from medical experts capable of providing testimony concerning the medical care you received while at the hospital. Our legal team has the resources to provide medical experts who can help prove your claim. However, if the physician or nurse who caused your injury is an independent contractor, and many are, the hospital would be the wrong party to sue in most cases.

Let's take a closer look at when a hospital is and is not responsible for medically negligent staff members.

Why suing a hospital is different from other medical malpractice claims

Under certain circumstances, you can sue a hospital regardless of the doctor being an employee or contractor. For example, if the hospital hired a doctor with a history of medical malpractice and allegations. Another reason is if the hospital hired staff with a history of drug abuse and they caused you harm. Furthermore, you may sue a hospital if they didn't inform you that the doctor was a contractor or treat the doctor as an employee by setting their hours and fee scale.

When considering which party to sue, our medical malpractice attorneys will be able to determine who should be held liable. Regardless of the answer, the real fight will be with the insurance companies, not the offending party.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • What is considered negligence in a hospital?

    When we go to a hospital, it's because we need some care for an illness or injury. When the very medical professionals that are supposed to help cause harm instead, it's a breach of trust and can have a devastating impact on our health. Negligence comes in many forms, but here are a few reasons why you could sue a hospital:

    Wrong diagnosis or treatment - Many medical malpractice lawsuits stem from patients receiving the wrong diagnosis, which causes a delay in the correct treatment, no treatment, or even death. Diagnostic errors are far more prevalent than the medical community would like to admit. In fact, a 2013 study of 25 years of medical malpractice lawsuits showed that diagnostic errors accounted for the biggest fraction of claims and the most severe harm to patients.

    Receiving the wrong medication - Errors with medication are another leading cause of patient harm. Dispensing the wrong medication can worsen the illness and even lead to death. Suppose a patient is dependent on a nurse to administer a drug during a treatment regimen, and a dose is missed. In that case, it could lead to the total failure of the treatment regimen. Medication errors can have catastrophic effects, such as causing deadly allergic reactions. Some medications interact badly with others, and if the wrong medications are mixed, the patient's condition may be further aggravated.                                                         

    Medical technician mistakes - A medical technician is usually responsible for supporting doctors and nurses while you're being cared for at a hospital. They may take your blood pressure, heart rate, pulse, and temperature. Still, they may also be responsible for making sure medical instruments are sanitized. If they fail to do so properly, it could lead to infection or worse. Their duties may include monitoring IV fluid intake, and if a sedated patient becomes dehydrated because the technician didn't monitor effectively, it can cause their condition to become critical. Furthermore, medical technicians may be responsible for helping patients get mobile after surgery. If the technician doesn't properly support a vulnerable person, they may fall and become injured.

    Surgical errors - Surgical errors have perhaps the most debilitating effects on patients. 75% of lawsuits against surgeons are because of intraoperative error. Surgeons can make mistakes like wrong patient surgery, wrong-site surgery, or performing incorrect procedures. Of course, errors related to skill, burns, and equipment failure can happen, too, all of which have devastating consequences for the patient.

    The "standard of care" was not upheld - The standard of care is to possess the skill and same knowledge and enact the same level of care that another medical professional in their field would. When medical professionals fail to uphold the standard of care, they could be liable for medical malpractice.

    Negligent and dangerous actions by hospital staff - Hospital staff are required to work with patient safety in mind. Suppose hospital staff don't follow policies such as using sanitizer, wearing gloves, and disposing of biohazardous materials properly. In that case, this leaves patients vulnerable to infection and further illness.

    Wrongful death of a close family member - When an immediate family member dies due to a hospital's staff's negligence or wrongful acts, the deceased's family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit to receive compensation for their loss. 

  • Can you sue a hospital for discrimination?

    Suppose you are refused treatment, and you believe the denial of treatment is because of your race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or other protected status. In that case, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. Any hospital that participates in Medicare is required by federal law to provide emergency treatments for people who need them; this also includes people that cannot afford to pay. However, there are few circumstances when a hospital can deny emergency care:

    • The patient is exhibiting drug-seeking behavior
    • The patient is delusional, thinking they have an illness or injury they don't have
    • The patient is a danger to staff or other patients

    Private doctors can refuse to treat and are not subject to providing emergency services regardless of your ability to pay. Still, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they cannot refuse to treat people that fall under a protected status.

  • What are some examples of medical negligence?

    Wrong blood type - In 2003, Duke University Hospital was the center of national attention when doctors performed a heart and lung transplant on a 17-year old girl without checking the blood type of the donors to see if they matched the young patient's blood type. The result was that the error caused her fatal brain damage, and her body went into shock. To add to this grievous mistake, the hospital tried to cover up the error for 11 days.

    Wrong testicle removed - A man sought treatment for potential cancer in one of his testicles, but the surgeon removed the healthy one instead because he did not mark the diseased one. The man brought a medical malpractice suit against the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center and won $200,000.

    Wrong sperm used at a fertility clinic - A couple looking for fertility help through in-vitro fertilization found their baby was not their own when the child was born of a different race than the couple. DNA test results proved the child was not the husband's biological child. The couple sued the owner of the fertility clinic and the embryologists who processed the sperm and egg.

    Surgical instrument left inside the abdomen - A man went to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle to remove an abdominal tumor. The tumor was removed successfully, but the surgeons forgot a 13-inch metal retractor. The man suffered in pain for two months before the error was discovered. This so-called "never event" awarded the man $97,000 in damages.

    Incorrect cancer diagnosis - A woman was told she had breast cancer. Her doctor recommended a double mastectomy which she agreed to. She later learned that there was a lab mix-up and that she didn't have cancer at all. Both breasts were removed unnecessarily. She brought a lawsuit against the facility and won $2.5 million. 

  • Can you sue a hospital for early discharge?

    If your condition worsened after being discharged too early, you might have grounds for a hospital negligence claim. Being discharged too early can have just as bad of consequences as any other medical error. Frequently, early discharge harm happens to infants who are at their most vulnerable during the first 48-hours of life. Adults can be the victim of avoidable harm when they're discharged too early after surgery or without adequate testing.

    When patients are discharged too early, they often return under medical emergency conditions. Proving medical malpractice will require your lawyer to get an expert witness to testify that medical staff deviated from the standard of care and precisely how they failed to uphold the standard of care.

  • How long do you have to sue a hospital for negligence?

    Like all civil cases, states have statutes of limitations that limit the amount of time after injury for bringing a medical malpractice claim. Most states allow two or three years but when the actual time clock starts ticking varies from state to state.

    Some states have a "discovery rule," which means the statute of limitations clock doesn't start ticking until the injury has been or should have been discovered by the patient. Other states use the "continuous treatment" rule, which means the clock starts ticking once the physician who caused the injury stops treating the patient. Still, other states have the "infancy" toll, which extends the statute of limitation for a specific amount of time for infants or minors harmed when they were young.

    What is critical in almost any hospital negligence case is that you retain legal counsel as quickly as possible after being injured. If the statute of limitations in your state has passed, you have little recourse no matter how severe your injuries are or how outrageous the conduct was.

  • What is the average payout for medical negligence?

    In 2018, the Medical Malpractice Report by the National Practitioner Data Bank revealed the average payout for medical malpractice cases was $348,065, with more than $4 billion awarded collectively. 96.5 percent of payouts came from settlements, and just 3.5 percent were from court judgments.

    Of course, the actual amount you may be awarded depends on many factors like the circumstances, the parties involved, state laws, and the severity of your injuries. A successful hospital negligence claim usually can include compensation for lost earnings, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

  • Why choose Morgan & Morgan attorneys for my hospital negligence claim?

    We understand that you've been through a lot, and this is a critical decision for you and your family. Asking the question, "Can I sue a hospital for medical negligence?" is the first step to compensation. Our lawyers will review the facts of your claim to help determine if you have a good chance of gaining a settlement or winning a verdict and fight to defend your rights. 

    Our medical malpractice lawyers have years of experience and understand the laws that will impact your claim. Medical malpractice claims almost always end up in a settlement which requires excellent negotiation skills for the most favorable outcome. Since our law firm was founded over 35 years ago, we've been fighting insurance companies and perfecting the art of negotiation. We never back down from driving a hard bargain to benefit our clients. But some cases are too important to settle. That's why our lawyers prepare your claim as if we're going to trial from the beginning. We're not afraid of the courtroom and have found that juries are the best at deciding what your injuries are really worth.

    When you or a loved one has been harmed by hospital negligence, our qualified attorneys can help recover the money you need to get on with your life. Just contact us for a free case evaluation.

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