After heart disease and cancer, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States according to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University. Even more frustrating for family members who lose a loved one to a medical error is the fact that his or her death was probably avoidable.
It is natural to want to seek justice after such a loss, but it can be difficult to know whom to hold responsible. The facts of your case will determine your correct course of action, but it may be possible to sue a hospital, doctor, and/or nurse for malpractice that results in a patient’s death.
Reasons To Sue a Hospital
Naming a hospital in a wrongful death suit can be a strategic move when the physician’s malpractice insurance may not pay enough to cover all the damages. However, if you and your attorney decide on this tactic, it is still necessary to prove that the hospital was negligent in some way. Examples of hospital negligence can include the following:
- Understaffing: Not ensuring that there are enough doctors and nurses to provide adequate care to each patient
- Patient safety: Failing to establish proper protocols
- Hiring: Failing to verify the competence and licensure of employees
The word “employee” is particularly important here. It is possible to hold hospitals liable for the misconduct of their employees. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to hold a hospital liable for the actions of non-employees, and many doctors and nurses work at hospitals as independent contractors.
Reasons To Sue a Doctor or Nurse
Often, it is to your advantage not to include the hospital in your wrongful death suit for malpractice because the insurance company will assign the hospital a separate attorney than the one representing the doctor. This means that you would have two defense lawyers working against you, which puts you at a disadvantage. It may be better to focus all your attention on the provider instead.
There are four main categories into which most cases of physician negligence fall:
- Medication Errors: These may include administering medication incorrectly or prescribing the wrong drug, dosage, etc.
- Negligence Affecting Pregnancy and/or Childbirth: This may result in harm to the mother, the baby, or both.
- Misdiagnosis: Failure to diagnose a condition correctly may result in a delay in treatment.
- Surgical Errors: These can include wrong-site surgery or leaving instruments inside patients.
There is some overlap between the types of negligence committed by a doctor and those committed by a nurse. However, nurses have separate duties and so may commit unique forms of negligence, such as failing to report a suspicious situation to the doctor.
A personal injury lawyer can assess the evidence and advise you on whether you have grounds to sue a hospital and/or provider for wrongful death. Contact a law firm to schedule an appointment.