Your medical care can go wrong in a hospital. Instead of getting better, you suffer harm due to a doctor’s negligence. Can the hospital be held responsible for a doctor’s negligence?
In Arizona you may sue an employer if one of its employees commits negligence which harms you – as long as the employee is working within the “scope and conduct” of employment at the time of the negligent act. A little-known fact is that many doctors at hospitals are not actually “employees,” of the hospital, but instead are “independent contractors.” Whether a doctor is an “employee” or “independent contractor” is often a critical issue in medical malpractice lawsuits because it may determine whether the hospital can be held responsible for the doctor’s negligence.
Hospital Employees and Negligence
Because an employer is generally responsible for the actions of its employees, if it is established that a doctor is an employee of the hospital, you will be able to sue both the doctor and hospital for your negligent care.
How Do You Determine If a Doctor Is an Employee of the Hospital?
A doctor is more likely to be a hospital’s employee if:
- The hospital controls the doctor’s working hours
- The hospital determines the fees that the doctor can charge for their services
- The hospital issues the doctor a W-2, offers them benefits and withholds the appropriate taxes from their paychecks
Times When Hospitals Can Be Held Liable for Non-Employee Doctors
There are times that a hospital may be responsible for the doctor’s actions, even if the doctor is not an employee of the hospital:
- The hospital does not make it clear that the doctor is not their employee.
If the hospital fails to inform the patient during admissions or at a very early stage of treatment that the doctor treating them is not their employee, the patient can sue the hospital if the doctor is negligent.
- The hospital retains an incompetent doctor.
If a doctor is incompetent, it does not matter if they are an employee or an independent contractor. If the hospital has knowledge that the doctor is incompetent or dangerous and still retains them and gives them staff privileges, then the hospital is liable. This is called negligent hiring.
If you believe you are a loved one has suffered negligent medical care from a hospital or doctor, an Arizona medical malpractice attorney may be able to help you get compensation.