Vicarious liability and medical malpractice

Medical malpractice includes quite a few different aspects of the profession and one of those is surgical errors. When surgical errors occur, a patient might need an additional surgery to correct the problem or remove a piece of medical equipment left behind in the body. Vicarious liability is the discussion of whether or not an employer should be held liable for an employee's actions.

The basics of a vicarious liability case are that more than just a surgeon who committed medical malpractice could be held liable in a lawsuit. The hospital that retained the surgeon's services could be held vicariously liable under what is called respondeat superior.

Respondeat superior holds employers liable for actions of their employees in certain situations. For this to apply to a case, the action must have occurred during the score of employment. The employer can be held liable for the employee's actions if the following are present:

-- The injury to the victim occurred when the employee was on the clock

-- The injury to the victim was caused by an activity the employee was hired to perform

-- At the time of the injury to the victim, the employer benefited in one way or another from the activity the employee performed

Performing surgery and treating patients are considered activities that fall under the scope of employment for a doctor. Because of this, hospitals that employ surgeons who commit surgical errors could be held liable for the surgeon's actions. If the doctor was practicing outside of work hours or for personal gain, the hospital that employs the doctor could conceivably not be held liable for his or her actions.

The same doctor could be held liable for the actions of his or her staff if they were carrying out the doctor's orders for patient care and negligence occurred.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney from our firm can develop a case based on your surgical errors. He or she can help you learn more about your legal options.

Source: FindLaw, "Vicarious Liability," accessed April 26, 2017

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