You may already be familiar with the legal concept of medical malpractice, which occurs when a health care professional acts in a negligent manner and thereby causes harm to the patient. There also exists another possible cause of action whenever a medical malpractice situation occurs, which is known as hospital negligence. Hospital negligence is a distinct claim that is often raised in connection with a medical malpractice lawsuit, although it does not depend on an underlying act of medical malpractice and may be brought independently.
The concept of hospital negligence is that you can be harmed in a health care setting under theories based more along the lines of premises liability or agency law. For example, a business -- and most hospitals, clinics, doctors offices and pharmacies operate as businesses -- owes a duty to its patrons to protect them from foreseeable injury. Likewise, a health care facility owes patients a similar duty of care to protect them from foreseeable harm.
Some types of foreseeable injury that can happen in a health care setting are:
- Staffing and supervision errors. Not having enough medical staff available, or failing to ensure that employees have proper training and qualifications to perform their duties, or negligent hiring practices can cause harm to patients.
- Dangerous facility conditions. A poorly-secured parking lot where a mugging occurs, or unsanitary conditions that result in a patient contracting an opportunistic infection, or even a liquid spill that results in a slip-and-fall accident are ways that hospital negligence can occur.
Another way that health care institutions can be liable is through vicarious liability, under which an employer can be liable for the wrongful acts of its employees when they harm a patient during the performance of their duties.
If you have been harmed in a health care setting, helping you to identify your possible causes of action -- medical malpractice, hospital negligence or vicarious liability -- is something that an experienced New York personal injury attorney may be capable of assisting you with.