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Can I sue the hospital for malpractice?

Medical malpractice suits can be very complicated, and many people do not even know who to sue for their injuries. For example, many people wonder if they should sue the hospital itself for malpractice, or merely the doctor that performed the procedure.

The reality is that in certain cases, yes, you can sue the hospital for malpractice in addition to individual actors. According to FindLaw, in certain circumstances a hospital may carry vicarious liability for the actions of the doctors it employs.

What is vicarious liability?

This is the legal term for a hospital being responsible for the actions of doctors who are employees of that hospital. This particular situation is also known as “respondeat superior,” which is Latin for “let the master answer.” In the event that your malpractice injury happened while the doctor was an employee of the hospital and acting within his or her scope of employment, you may be able to sue the hospital.

When does this apply?

First, the doctor must be an actual employee of the hospital in order for vicarious liability to exist. Many doctors and surgeons operate as independent contractors in hospitals. If this is the case, then the hospital bears no responsibility for the actions of the independent contractor. Sometimes hospitals will defend themselves but showing what privileges the doctor in question held.

Another common defense that hospitals employ against vicarious liability is claiming that the doctor in question was not acting within his or her scope of employment. For instance, if the doctor was working outside of office hours for his or her own financial gain, then that doctor was not acting within the scope of employment.