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Hospital Malpractice

When is it Hospital Malpractice?

Hospital malpractice is when a patient is injured because of an error, the complete lack of care, substandard quality of care, or the negligent action of a hospital staff member. The hospital must have deviated from the acceptable and reasonable standard of care, and the action or omission of action by the hospital staff member must have been the direct cause of the patient’s injury and the damages they have suffered because of it.

Where the hospital thus breaches the duty of care and it causes injury to a patient, then only can it be hospital malpractice. The difficult part, however, is to prove whether the hospital or the medical professional is responsible for the care and, consequently, the breach in the duty of care.

One should understand that the negligence of a medical professional does not necessarily mean the hospital is guilty of malpractice. If the doctor makes a mistake while treating the patient in a hospital and that mistake causes the patient to suffer injury and damages, then the doctor is the one who should be held accountable for the malpractice. It is not a given that a doctor who works at a hospital is employed by the hospital, which is why it is best to make use of an attorney to determine whether the doctor or hospital is liable for malpractice.

Elements of Hospital Malpractice

To understand the legal requirements, let us discuss the elements of malpractice as mentioned above.

First of all, the hospital must have breached the reasonable standard of care. The test for such is to determine whether a prudent healthcare team under the same circumstances would have acted differently.

Then there is the matter of the patient. Is the patient suffering because of the action or omission of the hospital? If so, the patient must be able to prove that the injury suffered would not have happened if the hospital was not negligent.

The patient must have suffered damages as the result of the action or lack thereof by a hospital employee. Such injury and damages include loss of income, loss of life amenities, permanent disability, pain, current and future medical costs, future loss of earnings, and funeral costs where relevant.

When it comes to the duty of care, it is imperative to determine who was responsible for the negligence, such as the hospital or a particular doctor.

Nurses, doctors, medical technicians, administrative personnel, and support staff can be employees of the hospital. If an employee of the hospital has been the cause of the injury, then the hospital can be held responsible for the damages.

Typical Mistakes

Examples of mistakes that hospital employees can include but are not limited to the following: misdiagnosing, late diagnosing, or the failure to diagnose;

  • misunderstanding lab results;
  • discharging a patient too soon;
  • the lack of aftercare;
  • prescribing the wrong medication;
  • surgical mistakes;
  • the failure to order tests;
  • not taking the patient’s history into consideration; or
  • not keeping a record of the patient’s history.

If you or a loved one suffered injury as the result of hospital negligence or malpractice, it is imperative to have an experienced attorney who specialises in medical law to be on your side. Call Adele van der Walt Incorporated for a consultation to determine the merits of your case.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Call on our attorneys for legal advice, rather than relying on the information herein to make any decisions. The information is relevant to the date of publishing – April 2019.

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