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Hospital negligence: Failing to perform due diligence when hiring

Negligently hiring a doctor or surgeon with a checkered past could result in a hospital being held liable for injuries that come to patients. Hospitals that don't consider the people they hire put their patients at risk, which is unacceptable.

When a hospital is held liable for poor hiring choices, it's called vicarious liability. Vicarious liability holds the hospital liable when a doctor or other staff member makes a mistake that harms a patient. It's held liable under the theory of "respondeat superior."

What is respondeat superior?

Respondeat superior holds employers liable for employees' actions in some cases. For instance, if the negligence happens within the scope of employment, the hospital could be liable for mistakes a doctor makes. Usually, three things must happen for a hospital to be liable. First, the injury must happen when the employee is working on the clock. Second, you must show that the injury was caused by the employee while performing an act that he or she was hired to perform. Third, you need to show that the employer benefited from that act in some way.

In a situation where a doctor makes a mistake, you can show that he or she was hired to treat patients and that he or she was working on the clock at the time of an incident. Then, you can show that this medical professional was hired to perform a task, like a surgery, by the hospital.

Shouldn't you hold the doctor liable for mistakes?

Yes, and you can usually, but it might be better for your case to pursue a claim against the hospital. Not only does that hold the facility accountable for hiring without doing due diligence, it makes the hospital address any problems with the medical provider as well. While you can sue just the doctor, it's unlikely you'll receive as much of an award if you do win a case, so it's better to go after the employer itself.

Liability applies to multiple people when a patient gets hurt. Keep in mind that you have options to consider and should choose carefully when deciding how to make a claim. It is crucial that you discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to fully understand your legal options.

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