The Hospital as Defendant in a Tort Case

Liability in a tort case can result to a person being held responsible for the actions committed or not performed by another. This is known as vicarious liability and, when applied in a workplace setting, it would refer to an employer being held accountable for the act or failure to act of his/her employee, provided that the act or failure to act can be proven to have occurred during the course of (the employee’s) employment.

Vicarious liability is often used in medical malpractice lawsuits, especially if the basis of the lawsuit is hospital negligence. This move is often resorted to by legal experts knowing that the medical personnel, who committed the injurious mistake, will not be able to afford the necessary amount of compensation to the victim; an amount, however, which the hospital’s insurance carrier can surely pay. Thus, instead of naming the person, who committed the error or failed to perform the correct procedure, as defendant, the defendant becomes the hospital. Besides the purpose of seeking compensation, naming the hospital as defendant is also intended to raise a message to the hospital owner/s and managers: ensure that quality care is provided at all times to prevent other patients from suffering any type of injury due to mistakes.

In 1999, a report, called “To Err Is Human,” was published by the Institute of Medicine (a nonprofit organization). The report claimed that every year during the 1990s, preventable medical errors caused the death of 98,000 people. Modern medical devices and the advancement of knowledge in the medical field was considered as solutions to fatal medical mistakes; however, instead of having the number of deaths reduced, the number of fatalities almost doubled. In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services stated that 180,000 patients in Medicare alone die every year due to bad hospital care.

The Hankey Law Office clearly points out that medical professionals have a significant responsibility to the persons under their care, and when they fail in this duty then the consequences can be disastrous. Besides the fact that injurious mistakes committed by professionals must not go unpunished, so is the fact that the injured should never be denied of compensation. It would benefit injured patients to file a legal action through the help of a highly-competent medical malpractice lawyer.