Hospital malpractice occurs when a patient is injured due to an error or negligence that could have been prevented by a hospital. Hospitals are ultimately responsible for the conduct of staff members, and have a duty to ensure that patients are given the best care possible. If a staff member is hired without a thorough background check, or understaffing issues prevent staff members from delivering proper care to all patients, injuries that occur as a result may be considered hospital malpractice.
Types of Hospital Malpractice
Staff member errors and negligence that hospitals may be liable for include:
- Delays in diagnosis or treatment
- Incorrect doses of medication
- Errors in administering anesthesia
- Errors in childbirth
- Surgical errors
- Unnecessary surgeries or procedures
- Failure to refer patient to specialist for proper treatment
- Infection that is a result of negligence or error
Hospital Hiring Practices
A hospital may be liable for an incident of negligence or malpractice if the staff member responsible for the incident was hired without being properly certified or trained for the position. Hospitals are trusted to conduct investigations into prospective employees’ backgrounds to ensure that the employee has received the appropriate level of education and experience to administer quality care to all patients. If the hospital fails to conduct proper background checks, or intentionally hires employees that are not qualified for the position, the hospital is putting patients at risk.
Negligence from Understaffing
Understaffing issues may prevent hospital staff from delivering proper care to patients with an urgent need for care. Staff members operating under conditions in which there are staffing shortages tend to work longer hours under more stressful situations, which can contribute to errors. Staff members may not be able to administer timely care to all patients, which can also result in negligent situations in which patients’ conditions worsen from delayed diagnosis and treatment. Hospitals are required to ensure that staffing levels are adequate to provide timely care for all patients.
Determining Hospital Malpractice
In order to be considered hospital malpractice, there are certain characteristics that must be present within the case which the patient must be able to prove. The patient must be able to prove that the hospital was visited and a medical professional or other staff member was seen in regards to medical care. The patient must be able to provide an account of negligence or misconduct on the part of the staff member that demonstrates incompetence. The patient must also be able to correlate the incompetence to an injury or infection that occurred. Finally, the patient must be able to prove that harm came from the incident of hospital malpractice.
Statute of Limitations
Different states may allow different lengths of time in which legal action can be taken to hold a hospital liable for an act of negligence or malpractice. Lawsuits for hospital malpractice must be pursued within two to four years following the incident in which malpractice occurred, in most states. An attorney will be able to provide information regarding how the statute of limitations law may affect a case, and may be able to assist in creating a timeline for gathering evidence and information which will fall within the statute of limitations.
To prove hospital malpractice, experts must deliver testimony in most cases. States may differ on what qualifies an individual as an expert, but a certain amount of experience within the field that is relevant to the case is typically required. An attorney may be able to assist a patient in locating an individual that is qualified and willing to submit testimony pertaining to a case of hospital malpractice.
Orlando Hospital Malpractice Lawyers
An attorney that is experienced in handling cases of hospital malpractice will be helpful to a patient that has been a victim of negligence or misconduct. Hospital malpractice attorneys may be able to assist patients in gathering evidence and testimony to support malpractice claims and ensuring that this information is gathered within the appropriate time frame. With the help of a qualified attorney, patients may be able to receive compensation for pain and suffering resulting from hospital malpractice, as well as recovering costs incurred from medical treatment and lost wages.
“Accidents or Unintentional Injuries.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. USA.gov, 30 Dec 2013. Web. 2 Apr 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/acc-inj.htm>
“Medication Errors.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 08 Aug 2013. Web. 2 Apr 2014. <http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/medicationerrors/default.htm>
“The 2013 Florida Statutes: Health Professions and Occupations General Provisions.” Online Sunshine. The Florida Legislature, n.d. Web. 2 Apr 2014. <http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=malpractice&URL=0400-0499/0456/Sections/0456.50.html>