Can a Maryland hospital be negligent in a medical malpractice case? Absolutely! In fact, in a typical medical malpractice case, you allege negligence on the part of the hospital, physician, nurse, or any combination of the three.
A hospital can be liable for corporate negligence and, under the doctrine of “vicarious liability,” for the negligent acts of its employees.
A hospital is liable for negligent acts attributable to the corporate entity. Examples of such negligent acts include:
- the unreasonable denial of medical services;
- the negligent maintenance of equipment;
- the negligent hiring and/or continued employment of hospital employees;
- the negligent granting of staff privileges to physicians as independent contractors; and
- the negligent supervision of staff physicians.
Vicarious liability is a legal tool that makes an employer liable for the acts of its employees. To use this legal tool, you must show that the negligent act was committed by an employee of the hospital and that the act was performed “within the scope” of employment.
The most common example of hospital liability imposed through vicarious liability arises when a plaintiff sues for the negligent acts of a nurse employed by the hospital. Assuming that the nurse is an employee of the hospital, the hospital is vicariously liable for the negligent acts of the nurse.
It is worth noting that, typically, when an employer hires an independent contractor, the employer is not responsible for the contractor’s negligence. (Many physicians are independent contractors.) However, there are a number of exceptions to this general rule. One of these exceptions is the legal doctrine “apparent agency.” Through this exception, you can hold the employer responsible because the employer has represented, by its words or conduct, that the independent contractor was an employee.
What’s the deal, you may be thinking, with my particular situation? Were my physicians independent contractors? Were the nurses employees? Did the hospital make a mistake like giving a Dr. Johnson staff privileges?
I realize you may have questions or concerns about your
situation. If you have not yet started a lawsuit and are contemplating bringing
one, call me. I can answer your legal questions and would love to talk with
you. You can reach me at 410-513-9978 or by email at email@example.com.
 Some physicians and most nurses, orderlies, aides, and technicians, among other types of workers, are considered employees of the hospital.