When a patient dies under the care of a hospital, and that death is due to medical malpractice or neglect, the surviving family of that patient may file a lawsuit to retrieve compensation. These claims are known as wrongful death claims, and they may be filed against the hospital, the provider who caused the death, or other healthcare workers who were at-fault.
Every state has different laws regarding wrongful death claims – and not all deaths in hospitals are wrongful deaths. Therefore, it is best to consult with an attorney who has experience with wrongful death claims. An attorney will begin their investigation right away looking for evidence to prove that the hospital was liable for your loved one’s death.
When is the Hospital Liable for a Death?
Again, just because a loved one dies in a hospital does not mean that the hospital is negligent or at fault for their death. A hospital might be liable in various ways when a patient dies, but two of the most common are:
- Negligence on behalf of employed physicians, nurses, aides, and other paid health care workers in their facility.
- Negligence on the hospital itself due to inadequate hiring or supervising, not maintaining equipment, or failing to manage the medical care of their patients.
What if the Health Care Worker is an Independent Contractor?
These days it is not uncommon to find several health care workers working in a hospital as an independent contractor. More hospitals are hiring as an independent contractor to limit their liability and save on cost for employment.
When a hospital worker is an independent contractor, the hospital may not be liable for the injuries and damages they cause. Physicians and nurses are two common areas where you will encounter independent contractors. If you cannot prove that they are genuine employees of the hospital, the hospital is not responsible for their negligence and any damages that result from it.
Your attorney will help determine whether or not a hospital worker is an employee or contractor. Sometimes a hospital will classify a worker as an independent contractor when they are not. Your attorney will review their work history and the control the hospital had over that work to determine if they genuinely were an independent contractor. If they are not an independent contractor, and your attorney can prove that they are in fact employees of the hospital, then you can still hold the hospital responsible for your injuries.
When Medical Malpractice is the Cause of a Wrongful Death
When you suspect medical malpractice is the cause of a loved one’s death, your attorney will need to determine what type of negligence played a role in their death. Some of the most common types of negligence that lead to medical malpractice claims include:
- Neglect care during childbirth or pregnancy
- surgical errors
- Medication errors
Whether it is a physician or a nurse working for the hospital, when they are negligent and that negligence leads to injury, the hospital will be liable due to vicarious liability laws.
Nurses, just like Physicians, though their patients a professional duty of care. A nurse can commit medical malpractice just like a doctor. When a nurse does not perform his or her duties as part of their job, they can lead to serious injuries and may cause a patient’s death. Some common causes of medical malpractice claims against hospital nursing staff include:
- Not monitoring a patient’s vitals
- Not updating a patient’s chart with accurate information
- Giving a patient the wrong medication or incorrect dose of a medication
- Giving medication at the wrong time
- Not checking a patient for bedsores
- Not reporting symptoms or updates that are urgent to the overseeing physician
Should You Sue the Doctor or Hospital for a Loved One’s Death?
A familiar question skilled attorneys are asked whether they should sue the hospital or the physician who caused the death. A hospital is legally liable for a physician’s negligence, but your attorney may decide that it is not necessary to file a lawsuit against both parties.
Your attorney may determine that the malpractice insurance coverage of the physician is too inadequate to fulfill your claim. In that case, he or she may decide it is best to file your lawsuit against the hospital instead of the physician.
If the hospital were the direct cause of a loved one’s death, then your attorney would file a lawsuit against the hospital and not their employees. Hospitals can be held liable for their actions or inactions. Just some ways a hospital can be found negligent and responsible for a person’s wrongful death include:
- Failing to conduct background checks before hiring Hospital personnel
- Failing to train and monitor the progress of their employees
- Failing to remove unlicensed, unsafe, or incompetent employees
- Ignoring safety and health protocols
- Failing to ensure that all medical staff are properly licensed
- Understaffing so that there are not enough individuals to care for the patients in the hospital
- Failing to monitor and maintain medical equipment
When the hospital is at fault directly, your attorney will file a lawsuit against the facility and not any health care workers involved in your case.
There may be an instance where the physician and Hospital are both named in your lawsuit. This might occur when the hospital conducted one of the negligent acts mentioned above oh, well a position equally acted negligent oh, and the combination of the two led to your loved one’s death.
Did You Lose a Loved One Due to Hospital Neglect? Contact an Attorney Right Away
If you lost a loved one and you suspect that the hospital or position was at fault for their death, you need to contact an experienced attorney right away. An attorney will immediately start their investigation and determine whether or not it was the hospital or a Hospital employee at fault.
To explore your options, schedule a free case evaluation with the attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC. You can book your appointment now for a consultation by calling us or request more information online about our legal services.