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Examples of Negligence in a Hospital Setting

Published on Apr 2, 2024 at 3:34 pm in Medical Negligence.

Examples of Negligence in a Hospital Setting

We trust hospitals and the medical staff working at them to take care of us when we have a medical issue arise. But what happens when we misplace our trust and something goes wrong?

What if a doctor, nurse, or another member of the medical staff makes a mistake and negligence occurs?

Unfortunately, hospital negligence and medical malpractice occur all too frequently in the United States. Data from the American Medical Association (AMA) show that nearly one-third (31.2%) of physicians reported in 2022 that they had previously been sued for negligence or error.

Hospitals are usually not liable for physician errors or malpractice claims against individual doctors, but that begs the question: What can a hospital be held liable for? And what types of negligence may occur in hospitals?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss some common examples of negligence in a hospital setting and who can be held liable for injuries and damages stemming from these errors.

What Is Hospital Negligence?

Before we dig into the different ways that hospitals can be negligent to their patients, it’s important to understand what negligence means and how that relates to hospitals. In order to pursue a negligence claim against a hospital, certain elements must be proven in your case.

Those elements are:

  • The hospital and its staff owed you a standard of care, often defined as treatment actions and decisions that other healthcare providers with similar experience and training would make in the same circumstances
  • The hospital and its staff failed to adhere to that standard of care
  • The hospital’s failure resulted in harm to you, such as physical injury, new or worsened illness, or any other physical harm that you would not have suffered had they held to the standard of care
  • Due to the harm you suffered, you incurred losses, which you can be financially compensated for, including loss of income or earning capacity, medical expenses, or pain and suffering

Ways Hospitals Are Negligent

Hospital negligence often differs from standard malpractice claims in that hospitals have many more moving parts and, thus, more responsibilities. Hospitals are not individuals but are in charge of many individual people and all of the actions and decisions those healthcare workers make.

Here are some of the ways that hospitals can be negligent:

Employer Negligence

As with any employer, hospitals can be held liable for all actions of their employees, including nurses, technicians, or any other members of the medical staff. Examples of mistakes hospital staff can make are:

  • Negligent triage (ie, ignoring or not taking seriously patients with imminent injuries or illness)
  • Taking an inadequate patient history
  • Inadequate physical/patient examination or assessment
  • Failure to monitor a patient’s condition
  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Failure to order imaging tests such as MRIs, CT scans, or X-rays to diagnose a patient’s condition
  • Failing to order other necessary tests to diagnose and treat a patient’s condition
  • Lack of communication between members of the patient care team
  • Discharging a patient prematurely
  • Failure to provide post-discharge instructions
  • Failure to conduct follow-up care
  • Failure to maintain sanitary or sterile conditions

Negligent Hiring

A negligent hiring claim will require proof that the hiring hospital overlooked facts about the staff member who committed a mistake that injured a patient.

This could be issues or concerns with their work history, which would have indicated an elevated risk of mistakes occurring had the hiring manager at the hospital taken the time to be more thorough.

Hospitals can be held directly liable for such instances where this can be proven.

Inadequate Staffing

We’ve seen this happening all over the United States: Nurses are leaving direct patient care in droves, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Research from consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimates a shortage of between 200,000 and 400,000 nurses by 2025.

However, this doesn’t excuse mistakes that occur due to hospital staffing shortages, and hospitals can still be held liable for problems in patient care due to these shortages.

Negligent Training, Supervision, or Retention

If hospital staff are not properly trained or supervised, this can lead to mistakes occurring that cause injuries to patients, and the hospital can be held liable if it’s proven the hospital did not provide proper training or supervision.

Additionally, hospitals can be held liable for failing to terminate staff who exhibit the inability to perform their jobs accurately as per the standard of care.

Apparent Agency

In some cases, hospitals may be held liable for malpractice claims against doctors.

If a patient has a reasonable belief that their doctor is an employee of the hospital, and no steps were made to inform the patient otherwise, any mistakes that a doctor makes during patient care may fall back on the hospital during a malpractice suit.

Holding Hospitals Accountable

It’s clear from the examples listed above that there are many ways that hospitals can be negligent in upholding the standard of care patients expect. If you or a loved one has been mistreated, ignored, injured, or otherwise neglected by a hospital or any member of hospital staff at any time during your visit, you have legal options available to you.

Our team at McMath Woods P.A. has extensive knowledge of medical negligence and medical malpractice claims within Little Rock or anywhere in Arkansas.

We want to assure you that we can help with your hospital negligence case.

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