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When can I hold a hospital liable in medical malpractice litigation?

Our readers are all aware that medical error is not an uncommon occurrence in the United States, despite the overall high quality of medical care. Just how prevalent medical errors are, though, is not as clear to the average consumer of medical services. To remedy this problem, a nonprofit company called Leapfrog Group has launched a report card for consumers to track the safety performance of numerous acute-care hospitals.

Although information regarding safety performance is already available, it isn’t easy for the average person to translate that information into an understanding of a hospital’s relative safety performance. What Leapfrog does is to rate hospitals according to various safety metrics and assign an overall grade so that consumers can make better decisions. 

No doubt, grading hospitals by their safety performance is sure to also cause hospitals to address issues that may need to be addressed. Another way this is done is through medical malpractice litigation.

Generally speaking, hospitals can be implicated in medical malpractice litigation by virtue of an employee’s negligence. This would include—at least most of the time—nurses and others responsible for patient care. When the subject of a medical malpractice is a doctor, a hospital can be held responsible only if the doctor has an employee relationship with the hospital.

It isn’t always the case that doctors have such a relationship with the hospital where they work, but when they do, those who have been harmed by that doctor’s negligence need to know how to hold the hospital responsible for their contribution to medical injury. 

Source:, “Can we make US medicine less dangerous,” Geoffrey Cowley, April 30, 2014. 

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