Tens of thousands of people are hospitalized in the Phoenix area every year for ailments that range from relatively minor to life-threatening. Unfortunately, some patients may be injured as a result of negligent care during their hospitalizations. Preventable medical mistakes in hospitals are a problem throughout the U.S., with recent studies estimating that such mistakes contribute to the deaths of as many as 440,000 hospital patients nationwide per year. In addition, many more patients suffer injuries that can have serious, long-term consequences. Hospital negligence is medical malpractice; however, not all medical malpractice that occurs within a hospital is considered hospital negligence.
To be deemed hospital negligence, the malpractice in question must have been committed by an employee of the hospital, such as a nurse, paramedic, or medical technician. Malpractice means that the responsible medical professional deviated from the accepted standard of care in a way that caused injury to a patient. For example, if hospital staff failed to adequately disinfect a room, resulting in the patient contracting an infection, or a nurse injured a patient by administering an incorrect medication, the negligent care provided would be the responsibility of the hospital. Should the hospital be found liable, the patient may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
You cannot assume that a hospital is liable simply because an injury from negligence occurs while the patient is in that hospital. Most doctors who provide care to hospital patients are considered independent contractors, not hospital employees. Unless the hospital directly controls the doctors’ working hours and vacation times and sets the fees doctors can charge, they are unlikely to be considered employees. In such a case, if the doctor’s actions led to the injury, the patient’s malpractice claim would be against the doctor, not the hospital. In addition, negligence committed by a hospital employee may be considered the responsibility of the doctor if that employee was under the doctor’s supervision when the error occurred, particularly if the doctor was present or could have prevented the employee’s negligence. However, a hospital may share liability in some cases, such as if they fail to respond to repeated complaints about a doctor who then goes on to commit malpractice. Therefore, figuring out whether a medical malpractice case can be considered hospital negligence may be a complex matter.
As with any medical malpractice case, experienced legal representation is essential to pursuing a claim against a hospital. The statute of limitations for a minor in Arizona is tolled until the minor reaches 18. For legal adults, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim in Arizona is two years, dating from when injury occurred or when the patient became aware of the injury resulting from negligent care. The assistance of a legal professional specializing in medical malpractice is essential for investigating your claim, gathering evidence, obtaining the testimony of medical experts, determining who bears liability, and calculating the full extent of damages resulting from the injury.
If you or your loved one has suffered a negligent injury while in the hospital, the experienced attorneys at Hodes, Milman and Liebeck can help. Contact us online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222 for a complimentary case evaluation.