Contact for Free Attorney Information Packet

Archive for June, 2012

Hospital contractors are anesthesiologists, radiologists, and others, who work in the hospital under contract but bill patients directly for their services. Hospitals used to claim they were not responsible for those providers, since they were no

t payroll employees, and hospitals did not have the right to control their actions. To protect hospitals even more, these doctors would set up professional corporations, which would contract with the hospital to supply services. However, courts in most states ruled that hospitals were liable for the actions of those doctors, because patients are not offered a choice but must accept whatever doctor the hospital selects to do the job. Ask yourself these four questions to help you decide whether the hospital was responsible for the doctor’s medical malpractice:

1. You expected the hospital to provide the service and had no idea who would do it. You did not go to the hospital to consult any particular doctor. You went to the hospital to have a test, an x-ray, or an operation. Basically, you asked the hospital to provide a service and relied on it to provide someone competent.

2. You were not given a choice of doctors. The night before surgery a doctor comes into your room and tells you he is the anesthesiologist and is going to put you to sleep tomorrow. You have never heard of this doctor, and it seems the hospital has authorized him to give you anesthesia. Legally, this is called the Doctrine of Apparent Authority. The patient is given the impression that the doctor is working with authorization of the hospital. It is common practice for people, who have x-rays taken in hospitals, to be billed by the radiologist or his corporation. It is reasonable to suppose that a hospital decides which doctors will work in its x-ray department and retains the power to supervise their actions. That is why the hospital is liable for the actions of its contractors.

3. The doctor does all or most of his work in the hospital. An Indiana hospital claimed it was not responsible for the anesthesia death of a patient, because it had contracts with two different groups of anesthesiologists, who arranged schedules, coverage, and fees amongst themselves. The court held that the hospital was liable, because cialis buy the doctors did not work in any other hospital, and the only purpose of the contracts was to shelter the hospital against lawsuits.

4. The hospital supplies the equipment used by the doctor. In an Alabama case, a patient sued both the radiologist and the hospital for misreading her x-rays. The hospital said it was not responsible for the doctor, because he maintained a fully-equipped Radiology office outside the hospital and worked at two other hospitals. However, the court said the hospital was liable, because it supplied the technicians and equipment used in taking the x-rays and was responsible for the doctor’s actions.

Can you also sue the employee or contractor, as well as the hospital? Yes. Just because the hospital is responsible for the actions of people it engages to render services does not mean that those people can do as they please. You can also hold them personally liable, and sometimes you must sue both to protect your legitimate interests.

Most seriously ill people end up in a hospital. When you are admitted to a hospital, you may be treated by many people from the doctor, who sees you in the ER, to the nurse or orderly, who pushes your wheelchair to the door when you leave. So


of these people are completely independent, like your own doctor or a private nurse. Some may supply services to patients under a contract with the hospital, like the anesthesiologist or radiologist. Some may be payroll employees of the hospital, like nurses and orderlies.

Is the hospital responsible for all of them? It depends on the relationship between each person and the hospital and the duty of the hospital to its patients. You have to be careful whom you sue, because your case can easily get off the rails, if you sue (or do not sue) the wrong people. From a legal point of view, there are several general categories of people, for whose actions the hospital may be liable, that we will discuss.

Hospital Employees

This includes all full-time physicians and payroll employees such as nurses, therapists, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, etc. Legally, they are agents of the hospital, and it is responsible for their actions under what is known as the doctrine of Respondeat Superior, a legal term meaning the boss is responsible for the lawful actions of his employees.

Doctors who are paid by writing my essay the hospital, which in turn bills you for their services, are considered hospital employees, even though they may maintain private offices outside the hospital. The test for a hospital employee is whether the doctor is paid by the hospital or by you, and the control which the hospital can exercise over her or him. Note that we said “can.” A hospital may let an ER doctor do exactly as he pleases, but if it has the power to tell her or him what to do, the ER doctor is a hospital employee. And, a hospital is 100% liable for the acts of its employees.

Download our Free Medical & Dental Abbreviations Glossary