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Is the hospital responsible for my doctor's negligence?

When a patient is admitted to a hospital, it is unlikely that only one doctor will be responsible for their medical care. Whether a patient stays for a few hours or a few months, chances are that multiple doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, technicians, and other health care professionals will interact with him or her in some capacity.

If a medical professional is negligent and causes harm to a patient in Maryland, then he or she may be held liable for the patient's damages. But these individuals are not the only ones who may be liable. Hospitals and healthcare facilities may also be held responsible for the negligent actions of their employees under certain circumstances. Even doctors can be held responsible for the actions of their staff. In legal terms, this concept is referred to as "respondeat superior," or vicarious liability.

In order for a hospital to be vicariously liable for the negligent actions of a physician, the medical negligence in question must have occurred within the course and scope of the physician's employment. Generally, this means that the doctor must have been "on the clock" at the time of the injury. Additionally, the doctor must have been performing a task that he or she was hired to perform, and the injury must have occurred as a result of that task. Lastly, the employer must have benefited from the task the doctor was performing when the injury occurred.

In many medical malpractice claims, both the doctor and hospital are found to be liable for a victim's injuries. However, if a doctor was acting beyond the scope of his or her employment by performing an un-approved surgery, practicing after-hours, or acting for his or her own profit, then the hospital may not be found liable. Hospitals also may not be liable if the doctor or staffer in question was not technically an employee. For example, many hospital workers are independent contractors and are therefore not employed by the hospital.

Determining who is liable in your medical malpractice case can be complicated. However, a qualified medical malpractice attorney can evaluate your claim and help you decide who to bring your case against.

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Law Offices of W. Scott Sonntag, P.A.
Maryland Trade Center III
7501 Greenway Center Drive # 460
Greenbelt, MD 20770
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Greenbelt Law Office