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Who Is Liable for Medical Malpractice?

If a patient dies from a healthcare professional’s negligence, the estate could file a wrongful death claim for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is defined as a deviation from the medical professional standard of care. This standard of care protects physicians from being sued any time a patient passes away while under a doctor’s care. To prove wrongful death, there are certain qualifications that must be met. These fluctuate based on the at-fault party—whether it be the doctor, nurse or hospital.

The Doctor

Most medical malpractice falls under the category of negligence in treatment. To win a wrongful death case, you must be able to prove that the doctor or healthcare professional showed neglect in their treatment or care. Most of these cases involve misdiagnosis, incorrect prescriptions, surgical errors or negligence in the delivery room. Nurses can also be held responsible for medical malpractice as they oversee treatment before and after the doctor arrives. Some nursing errors can become deadly, such as:

  • Mis-reporting patient’s records or vital signs
  • Administering an incorrect amount of medication 
  • Failure to report important symptoms

In order to take legal action against the doctor, you must be able to prove he strayed from the professional standard of care. To prove this, you must receive testimony from another medical expert from the same field as the defendant that indicates the recognized standard of care in their industry.

The Hospital

The decision to sue the hospital in addition to the healthcare professional is usually based on monetary compensation. If you are suing for a large amount of compensatory and punitive damages, you might be better off suing the hospital, as the doctor’s malpractice insurance can only go so far. However, there are cases where the negligence is purely the fault of the hospital. For example, the hospital is responsible for hiring employees, ensuing a fully staffed floor, maintaining the quality of all equipment and surgical tools and generally overseeing the work done under their roof. Therefore, if the wrongful death happened because of a lack of safety protocols, it would be more beneficial to sue the hospital than the healthcare professional.

If you lost a loved one after a medical procedure or hospital stay, you could be eligible to file a claim for wrongful death and medical malpractice. If you win, the damages could help ease the financial burden of their death, while providing additional support for other loved ones. If you believe you have grounds for a wrongful death claim, contact a skilled attorney, like a Newark Personal Injury Attorney, to discuss your case.

Thank you to Rispoli & Borneo P.C. for their insight into personal injury law.

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