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Hospital liability when wrongful death incidents occur

Not all doctors work in hospitals, and not all doctors who work in hospitals have private clinics or offices. In Houston and throughout Texas, there are physicians who work solely in hospitals, called "hospitalists" because they are employed by the medical facilities where they work. There are also doctors who provide only private clinical or outpatient services. A third category of doctors may have non-hospital clinics, but may have hospital privileges to perform surgeries, work with patients or provide other hospital care.

The distinctions of what services a doctor can provide within the confines of a hospital are critically important when it comes to determining if a hospital can be held liable for the death of a patient within its facility. For example, due to the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, a mistake made by a hospitalist that results in the death of a patient may also be the fault of the facility who employed the doctor to provide care. Generally, respondeat superior requires the employer be liable for the errors of its employees and as hospitalists are workers for the hospital system, this legal doctrine can apply.

However, respondeat superior does not necessarily apply every time a patient dies in the hospital. This is because, as previously discussed, some doctors may not actually be employees of the hospitals where they provide services. Instead, they only have privileges to be there. In situations like this, a hospital may claim that a doctor with privileges is not an employee, but an independent contractor and therefore, the doctrine of respondeat superior should not apply.

As readers can see, a lot can turn on whether a doctor is categorized as an employee of the hospital where a medical malpractice death occurs. Including a hospital in a wrongful death lawsuit can help victims secure the compensation they need to move forward after a medical mistake robbed them of a loved one. Those who require more information about this and other medical malpractice legal topics should consult medical malpractice attorneys.

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Davis & Davis, Attorneys at Law
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Houston, TX 77002

Phone: 713-364-0314
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