Many are already acquainted with the legal concept of medical malpractice, which occurs when a health care professional such as a doctor, surgeon, pharmacist or other medical professional acts in a negligent manner, and that negligence causes harm to the patient.
There exists another cause of action that can be related to acts of medical malpractice, and sometimes appears as a cause of action in a civil lawsuit along with medical malpractice claims: hospital negligence. But hospital negligence is a distinct claim that does not depend on an underlying act of medical malpractice to exist.
The idea that underlies hospital negligence is that you can be harmed in a health care setting, even if you do not come into contact with a health care professional, in the same way that you can be injured when you visit a business even though it was not the direct result of any contact with a store employee.
As a general rule, a business, and most hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices and pharmacies are run as businesses, owes a duty to its patrons to protect them from foreseeable injury.
Some kinds of foreseeable injury that can happen in a health care setting include:
- Staffing errors. These can take the form of not having enough medical staff available to adequately care for patients, or failing to properly screen employees for proper qualifications or problems with their backgrounds.
- Dangerous facility conditions. A lack of cleanliness that results in an opportunistic infection, or the failure to provide adequate security are two ways that you can be harmed as a result of hospital negligence.
- Training and supervision errors. It is the responsibility of a hospital or other health care institution to properly train and supervise its employees. The failure to do so which leads to patient harm is another way for the institution itself to become liable.
Another way that health care institutions can be liable is through a legal doctrine of vicarious liability, which holds an employer liable for the wrongful acts of its employees in their roles as employees.
If you have been harmed in a health care setting in Louisiana, the determination of your causes of action, medical malpractice, hospital negligence, or vicarious liability, is something that an experienced personal injury attorney can assist you with.