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How are hospitals negligent in medical malpractice cases?

New Mexico patients who are injured while receiving treatment for an existing injury or illness often want to place the blame solely on the medical professionals who treated them. However, they might do well to remember that hospitals and other health care facilities could be held accountable for their injuries as well, whether the injuries were the result of their own negligence or the negligence of their employees.

The medical staff at a hospital includes licensed doctors, doctor assistants, nurses and other health care providers. In the case of hospital negligence, a facility might be deemed responsible for failing to adequately inquire about the credentials of its staff members prior to allowing the staff to treat patients. Hospitals also must ensure that an appropriate number of nurses are on duty all the time so that patients receive continuous quality care. The facility could be held accountable if patients are injured because there were not enough nurses on staff. Other situations in which hospitals might be liable for patient injuries are if they fail to maintain precise medical records, incorrectly admit and release patients or insufficiently complete clinical testing.

When a hospital is not directly negligent for the injury that its staff causes a patient, it could be deemed vicariously responsible. The respondeat superior doctrine holds employers liable when employees commit negligent acts within the bounds of their employment. However, this doctrine is only applicable if the practitioner who caused the injury is considered an employee rather than an independent contractor.

Patients who believe that they are the victims of hospital negligence could have a medical malpractice claim against those individuals and entities who may be culpable. An attorney who has experience in this area can provide a client with further guidance as to the remedies that may be available.

Source: Findlaw, "Medical Malpractice Liability ", November 18, 2014

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