CNBC reports that medical errors are the third-leading cause of deaths in the United States. Most people know that medical malpractice lawsuits give you the ability to sue a doctor who causes an injury. However, when it comes to Maryland hospitals, many ask frequently if the hospitals can be held accountable for their mistakes and wrongful actions. Most people don’t know that Maryland has enacted statutes specifically intended to allow lawsuits against hospitals.
Here, the attorneys of Bennett & Heyman, P.A., provide an overview of the reasons you can sue a hospital in Maryland for the injuries occurring at the hands of their staff. Our experienced attorneys deal with some of the most complex cases of hospital negligence in Maryland. Call (410) 429-7856 if you have questions about your particular situation or if you feel you have been the victim of negligence in a Maryland hospital.
Evolution of Hospital Negligence Liability
There was a time when hospitals were not considered full-service institutions and therefore not liable for their doctors’ negligent actions. However, those views are no longer in effect. Every hospital must implement practices and adhere to certain standards of care. Also, hospitals must provide staff with the training and tools necessary to meet this standard of care.
Today, hospitals are liable for the negligence of all employees, including physicians acting in their professional capacity. In many of these cases, your attorney may recommend that you sue the doctors and hospital in the same lawsuit.
The Maryland legislature enacted laws that guide medical malpractice lawsuits, specifically allowing negligence lawsuits against hospitals. According to § 3-2A-02, hospitals must “act in accordance with the standard of practice of members in the same profession with similar training and experience in the same or similar community.”
Also, Maryland hospitals receive ratings based on their negligence lawsuits and medical errors. These ratings create incentives for hospitals to settle and prevent the incidence of negligence lawsuits. The rating system offers a number of indicators as to whether a hospital is actively implementing standards of care and whether certain duties are neglected, such as the training of staff or providing care and maintenance to facilities.
Filing a Hospital Negligence Lawsuit in Maryland
Most medical malpractice cases require an understanding of what actions doctors and hospitals take to prevent common errors. This data is considered a legal requirement if you seek to establish an accepted standard of care. When you sue a hospital in Maryland, as the case of Shilkret v. Annapolis (1975) demonstrates, you have to show:
- The general standard of care at the time the medical services were provided
- A breach or deviation from the standard of care
- That such a breach caused your injury
An attorney can guide you as to how this legal standard applies to different cases of medical malpractice in Maryland. There are times when there are multiple courses of action considered standard. In those instances, the court will review the case based on the most common practice or the minimum standard of care.
If you are going to sue a hospital, you will need an expert to testify. Expert testimony is typically offered in Maryland to establish the required legal elements by educating the court as to the “hypothetical” types of actions that could have been used to prevent the injuries. There are experts in the management and implementation of protocols at hospitals who testify whenever there is a question about the hospital’s exercise of care.
Maryland’s Hospital Duty to Obtain Informed Consent
One of the most common hospital errors in Maryland involves the hospital’s failure to obtain informed consent from the patient about medication, surgical procedures, or other forms of treatment. Informed consent relates to the information patients must receive about the risks of a treatment in order to make an educated decision.
While doctors are generally required to obtain informed consent, there are instances when the hospitals are also held to that same standard. These instances include:
- When the hospital assumes the duty to inform the patient of risks and options
- When the doctor acts as an agent or “servant” of the hospital
Common Hospital Mistakes
Common mistakes seen in hospitals include:
- Inadequately trained employees
- Mix-ups with the doses or types of medications administered
- Surgical complications
- Childbirth injuries
- Surgery errors
- Emergency room mistakes
- Faulty anesthesia application
Liability of Maryland Hospitals
One tactic used to avoid liability is the hiring of independent contractors who receive no compensation or benefits from the hospital. However, even in those circumstances, your attorney could pursue a cause of action if the hospital’s acts or omissions played a role in causing the injuries.
The central factor in determining whether a hospital employee is an independent contractor is the hospital’s right to control the employee’s conduct and activities, such as when doctors use the facilities but can be denied staff privileges.
There are instances when hospitals cannot deny liability because they are considered to have “non-delegable” duties as a matter of law. Non-delegable duties are those actions that hospitals can’t transfer to other individuals or entities. In an accredited hospital, the governing body must oversee operations and physicians and cannot delegate this duty.
Hospitals have the following “non-delegable” duties:
- Care, custody, and supervision
- To use reasonable care in the maintenance of adequate facilities and equipment
- To select and retain competent physicians
- To conduct a reasonable investigation of physicians to ascertain their reputation in the medical community
- To oversee all persons who practice medicine or engage in patient care
- To formulate, adopt, and enforce adequate rules and policies to ensure quality care for patients
Turn to the Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys You Can Trust
When undergoing critical medical procedures, you shouldn’t have to worry about receiving the basic level of medical care. Unfortunately, not all healthcare professionals meet this simple standard. If you or a loved one has suffered because of the negligence of a hospital employee, know that help is available. The team of attorneys at Bennett & Heyman, P.A., can get you the justice you deserve. Call us today at 410) 727-2168 to schedule your free consultation.