January 6, 2014

Who Can I Sue for Medical Negligence?

By Jonathan Damashek

Posted in

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Prior to the 1800s, the terms “medical malpractice” and “medical negligence” were unheard in the United States, but the need for medical professionals was just as prevalent as it is today. The first medical negligence case in the United States was filed in 1794, when a Connecticut husband sued his wife’s physician for “his cost, expenses, and deprivation of the service and company of his wife” when she died several hours after a mastectomy surgery.

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It wasn’t until 1835 that medical malpractice claims took off in the United States, though. Between the years 1812 and 1835, only three medical lawsuits were recorded. In the next three decades (1835 to 1865), The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal reported 45 cases of medical negligence in the legal system.

Today, billions of dollars are paid out in medical malpractice compensation every year. According to Forbes, $3 billion was paid to victims of medical negligence in 2012, averaging out to one settlement every 43 minutes.

Over the years, medical malpractice has evolved and is considerably more complicated that it was in 1794 or the mid-1800s. In fact, medical malpractice lawsuits can be brought against virtually any member of the medical profession, including nurses, pharmacists, anesthesiologists, etc.

In fact, victims of medical malpractice can even sue hospitals for medical negligence.

A recent study showed that medical mistakes could be the third most common cause of death in the United States. If you believe that a negligent medical professional is responsible for your injury, illness, or loss, you have the right to seek financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Before you pursue a lawsuit, though, you must ask the following questions: Who is liable and who can I sue for medical negligence? The answer to this question will determine who you sue for medical malpractice.

The Hospital

Hospitals are private or public entities and can be held liable for the negligent actions of their employees. This is called “vicarious liability” because it requires the hospital to assume responsibility for the actions of an employee. In short, the hospital can be held accountable for the actions of another party.

Negligent hiring is one of the most common forms of hospital negligence. During the hiring process, the hospital should make sure that potential employees are qualified. If the hospital fails to make reasonable inquires about the applicant’s education, licensing, and training, it could be held responsible for any mistakes made by the new employee.

Additionally, the hospital must employ an adequate number of nurses, physicians, etc. to maintain high-quality care for each patient. If the hospital is under staffed, it could be subject to a lawsuit if a patient is injured by an overworked member of the medical team.

Doctors, Nurses, & Hospital Staff

Sometimes the hospital is not responsible for the actions of its employees. A qualified surgeon, for example, could make a careless mistake and injure a patient, even with adequate credentials. In this situation, you could choose to file a lawsuit against the doctor.

Acts of medical negligence can include:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Administering the wrong amount of a medication
  • Misdiagnosing a serious illness
  • Making an error during surgery
  • Facilitating a birth injury

How to File a Malpractice Lawsuit

If you are looking to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit in New York, contact the New York injury attorneys from Hecht Kleeger & Damashek (HKD) today. Our team is well-versed in personal injury cases and we are passionate about helping accident victims recover the money that they need and deserve. To learn more about your rights, visit our website or contact us to schedule a consultation.