Who can be held responsible for medical malpractice?
Written By: Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold, Ruffo & Giuffra LLP
When someone hears the term medical malpractice, they automatically assume it is the lawsuit between a patient and his or her doctor. And while many medical malpractice lawsuits are against providers, they may extend to anesthesiologists, nurses, facilities and even pharmaceutical companies.
Although the main focus of a medical malpractice lawsuit is to prove the fault of a provider, occasionally other individuals can be held responsible. If a patient files a medical malpractice lawsuit against their medical provider, the hospital or facility that employs this provider may be included in the lawsuit. This extended liability is known as vicarious liability and allows individuals to hold supporting parties liable for the negligent actions of others. The one catch to vicarious liability of a facility is that the provider must have been operating under the scope of their employment when the negligent action occurred.
Just like medical providers, anesthesiologists and nurses can also be held liable for malpractice. While performing duties related to their job, if an anesthesiologist or nurse causes injury to a patient, they may be subject to a malpractice lawsuit. In these lawsuits, like those against doctors, the doctrine of vicarious liability may work to hold their employer liable as well.
In some cases, pharmaceutical companies can also be sued for malpractice. Even though a pharmaceutical company's primary responsibility is to physicians, failing to warn providers of a drug's potential dangers or side effects may be grounds for liability. If their product caused injury or death to an individual, they may be held responsible for the loss.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely complex and require the help of an experienced attorney. Understanding the responsibilities of the parties involved and their role in the liability can help victims of medical malpractice receive the compensation they need to recover.