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What is Patient Harm and How Do You Sue for It?

Written by Berkowitz

patient harmPatient harm is exactly like it sounds. It is an injury that occurs to a patient. A hospital or medical professional is required to report all patient harm incidents to the state, but there are instances where serious injuries occur that are never reported – and it is a reason why medical malpractice numbers are estimated to be grossly inaccurate.

There are numerous instances where hospital administrators will break the rules of reporting; when patients suffer from a severe injury, the hospital may omit the critical details that reveal how extensive the injury was or how it even occurred.

Examples of Patient Harm

Patient harm is a general term that encompasses a variety of injuries that one could encounter while receiving medical treatment. Just some examples include:

  • Hospital acquired infections (HAIs)
  • Wrong site operations
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Wrong medications prescribed
  • Dangerous drug interactions
  • Other errors during surgical procedures, diagnostics, or other medical treatments

Can You Sue a Hospital for Patient Harm?

If you have been injured while receiving medical treatment at a hospital, you may be able to sue that hospital. While a hospital is typically responsible for the actions of its employees – such as nurses or medical technicians – the hospital is not always to blame for the actions of physicians.

Assessing Employee Liability

In a malpractice situation, you must first determine whether the physician who committed the harm was an actual employee of the hospital. In most cases, you will find that doctors are rarely employed by the hospital. Instead, they have privileges to that hospital. If the doctor only had privileges, your suit would be against the physician instead of the hospital. If, however, that physician was employed by the hospital, then you could hold the hospital liable for the actions of its employee via vicarious liability.

When Hospitals are Liable for Non-Employee Actions

There are instances where a hospital can be held responsible for the actions of an independent contractor – though these are rare. If the hospital does not make it clear to the patient that the physician is not an employee, then the patient may be able to hold the hospital accountable for the actions of its physician, too. To avoid this, most hospital intake forms will have you sign a consent or authorization for treatment, and they will state that the physician offering treatment is not part of the hospital staff.

Speak with a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured at a hospital and suffered harm, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. You will need to first have your case assessed by an attorney to determine if the physician was acting as an employee or non-employee, and explore your options for compensation. The attorneys at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC can help. We understand the frustration and confusion associated with a hospital injury, and we can help you seek compensation for those injuries. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule your no-obligation consultation. Contact us online to get started.