Oftentimes hospital negligence is not an obvious avenue to pursue when a patient has been injured. It is not obvious because the hospital is not the obvious source of the negligent harm that the patient suffers. Through the concept of respondeat superior a hospital may be found negligent for the acts of their employees while those employees are performing their duties.
Take for example the surgeon who operates on an individual but performs the operation in a negligent fashion while not being board certified. It is the hospital that routinely assures those surgeons and other physicians, nurses and staff are adequately trained and certified to perform their duties for which the hospital employs them. If the hospital is negligent is ensuring that their employees are fully qualified, trained and certified to perform the service for which they are employed the hospital is negligent. There are other areas that the hospital might be negligent. An area of great concern to me, because I am a critical care nurse, is adequate staffing in hospitals. If profits for the hospital come before providing adequate numbers of staff to operate in a safe manner the hospital again might be found negligent.
Laboratory services that are in keeping with standards of practice might be another area of liability for hospitals. If a blood or tissue sample is lost or delays in processing specimens ensues, perhaps because of antiquated systems, inadequate numbers of staff or inadequate training of the staff the hospital again might be found to be negligent.
Supplying the equipment necessary to care for patients is another area of potential negligence that the hospital must be held accountable for. The equipment must be kept in good repair. The equipment must be calibrated correctly. To prevent infection the equipment must be cleaned well between patients. If the systems in place are faulty or the demands on the equipment too high not all of this done all the time and the hospital will be found negligent.
Hospitals often hold themselves out as being specialized in certain areas of healthcare. If a hospital so holds itself out to be a leader in, lets say, cardiac care, they may be held to a higher level of accountability than other hospitals.
Emergency room treatment is a special area of concern for hospitals because they are often overpopulated with patients and resources are stretched to the limit. This does not however allow a hospital to deny access to patients that are truly in need of emergency treatment.
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