Our Blogs

What Happens If a Medical Student Makes an Error?

Written by Berkowitz

Doctor Hurrying through a HospitalTeaching hospitals are everywhere in the United States. After all, a medical student needs hands-on training and real-life experience before being able to administer healthcare services full-time. In Connecticut there are several leading teaching hospitals and clinics. These facilities are world-renowned and feature students from the leading medical schools in the United States. However, patients seeking treatment at these facilities may not realize that their care is provided by a medical student or resident. So what happens if a medical student makes a critical error that leads to an injury or death?

Can a Medical Student be Sued for Medical Malpractice?

The potential for medical malpractice lawsuits exists for anyone in the healthcare field – this includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists, trainees, and of course, medical students. While lawsuits involving medical students are rare, there is a potential for a lawsuit, especially if that medical student acts negligently.

Determining Malpractice in a Teaching Hospital

Most teaching hospitals provide superior care and treatment for their patients, regardless of whether or not they have medical students or residents administering that care. However, because these facilities receive a heavy fluctuation of new students at various training levels, they are more likely to commit critical errors than non-teaching facilities.

One of the most common causes for malpractice in teaching hospitals is negligent supervision of medical students. Medical students are under the direct supervision of an experienced, licensed physician in their training field. Unfortunately, they too have their own patients and obligations; therefore, they may not adequately monitor their students. Pair this with patients that may need urgent care, a medical student can easily misinterpret a patient’s symptoms or administer the wrong care.

Vicarious Liability Can Apply

A physician is typically liable for their negligent behavior; however, the hospital can also be held vicariously liable for a medical student’s actions or a physician’s negligent supervision. In most cases, however, it is the attending physician who is liable for their students’ and interns’ errors as part of their duty of care to their patients.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney for Answers to Your Questions

Determining liability when a medical student causes a serious medical error is complex. The attorneys at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC can assess your case and help determine who is liable for your injuries or the death of a loved one. Call us or fill out an online contact form to schedule a consultation with a medical malpractice attorney today.