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Filing a Lawsuit Against a Hospital

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Medical malpractice is a much more pervasive issue than many people realize. According to a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and accounts for an estimated 250,000 preventable deaths each year. Many other people are seriously injured by medical negligence each year. In many cases, medical errors that rise to the level of malpractice occur in hospital settings, and the hospital might be vicariously or directly liable, depending on the circumstances. If you’re considering filing a lawsuit against a hospital, scroll down for more information.

Filing a Lawsuit Against a Hospital

Hospitals can be vicariously liable for the medical negligence of their employees. However, in many cases, doctors are not employed by the hospitals in which they work but instead are independent contractors with admitting privileges. A hospital will not be vicariously liable for the actions of an independent contractor. However, it might be liable for the medical mistakes made by other medical staff who are employed by the hospital, including nurses, pharmacists, nurse aides, and others. If a hospital has negligently contracted with an incompetent doctor, it might also be directly liable for negligent hiring and retention.

Proving Malpractice When Filing a Lawsuit Against a Hospital

When you file a lawsuit against a hospital for medical malpractice, you will have the burden of proving the elements of malpractice by a preponderance of evidence. To do so, you will need to gather evidence, including your medical records, the doctors’ and nurses’ notes, lab reports, and other similar information. You will then need to have the records you gather reviewed by a medical expert to determine the appropriate standard of care and whether the medical providers’ treatment deviated from it and caused your injuries. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you with this process and help you understand whether you have a viable malpractice claim.

Elements of Medical Malpractice

To win a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will be required to prove each of the elements of malpractice. The elements include the following:

  • You and the medical provider had established a provider-patient relationship.
  • The provider’s treatment fell below the accepted standard of care for similarly situated, competent providers in the same practice field and geographic area.
  • The deviation from the standard of care caused your injuries.
  • You suffered calculable damages as a result.

If you are suing a hospital in addition to the medical professionals who provided negligent treatment, you will also need to show the relationship between the hospital and the responsible medical providers. If the providers were employed by the hospital, proving their negligence and malpractice is enough to establish the hospital’s vicarious liability. If the negligent provider was a doctor who was not employed by the hospital, you might need to find evidence that the hospital knew or should have known that the doctor was incompetent but still allowed him or her to work in the facility. Your attorney can help you look for this type of evidence.

Proving Damages

Even if you can show that the treatment you received was below the expected standard of care, you will not be able to recover compensation if you did not suffer any losses. You will have to present evidence showing the losses you have suffered and their value.

Some examples of evidence demonstrating your losses include the following:

  • Medical bills and records for corrective treatment you needed following the malpractice
  • Medical expert statements about the costs of your future treatment
  • Wage statements and paystubs showing your lost income
  • Accounts about your non-economic losses

Medical Experts

When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will need to present medical expert testimony to prevail. Medical malpractice cases are difficult for juries to understand, and an expert can explain what the medical standard of care is, how the treatment deviated from it and caused your injuries, and that your injuries would likely not have occurred if your doctor’s treatment had been reasonably competent.

Speak to the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook

If you believe your injuries were caused by malpractice in a hospital in Arkansas or Oklahoma, you should consult the malpractice lawyers at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook. Call 479-783-8000 (Fort Smith), 918-912-2132 (Tulsa), or 479-455-2210 (Fayetteville) to schedule your free consultation.