Who Can Be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice?
We trust that the medical professionals in charge of our health care will make decisions and perform procedures in a way that is ethical, safe and beneficial to our health. Many medical procedures involve some inherent risk, but sometimes it is outright negligence that results in injury, suffering or even wrongful death for an unfortunate patient.
While physicians may come immediately to mind when you think of medical malpractice, there are actually a number of other medical professionals and health-care providers that may be held liable in such claims.
Examples of Liability for Medical Malpractice Claims
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- Doctors: Physicians perform many functions in the medical field, which means there are plenty of opportunities for them to make mistakes. When a doctor fails to accurately diagnosis a serious illness, or provides a misdiagnosis, valuable treatment time can be lost, and patients may even undergo painful treatments (such as radiation and chemotherapy) for diseases they never had. A physician may also neglect to order appropriate and potentially life-saving tests for patients, or fail to provide patients with adequate information and resources regarding their condition and its treatment. In some facilities, a physician may also be held responsible for the actions of the nurses and other medical staff working under him or her.
- Radiologists: Just as a physician may be liable for diagnostic errors, it is possible for a doctor to order all the right tests to make an appropriate diagnosis, only to have the results misinterpreted or miscommunicated by a negligent radiologist. In this case, valuable treatment time may be lost and the negligent radiologist may be held accountable.
- Nurses: Nurses perform many of the day-to-day tasks of medical treatment, particularly in a hospital setting. Many of their responsibilities consist of interpreting and fulfilling the physician’s instructions, monitoring patients and maintaining a safe environment. They are generally in charge of inserting and maintaining IVs and intubating patients, as well as administering medications. When a patient is given the wrong medication, left unattended for hours or exposed to unnecessary environmental hazards, serious harm can result.
- Pharmacists: A pharmacist may be held liable for incorrectly filling a prescription in a way that causes injury to the affected patient. For example, a pharmacist could fill a prescription with the wrong medication or the correct medication at the wrong dose.
- Hospitals, clinics, medical practices, urgent care centers, etc.: In some cases, the medical facility itself can be held liable. This could be the case when injury was caused by widespread unsanitary or other hazardous conditions, or if negligent hiring practices resulted in injuries by unqualified or incompetent medical staff.
- Surgeons: We’ve all heard horror stories of medical supplies being sewn into patients during surgery or a surgeon operating on the wrong body part. Even with relatively common surgeries, an invasive procedure is always a serious matter requiring precision and care. Serious medical consequences may result if an operation is performed in an unsafe or negligent manner.
- Anesthesiologists: Whether general or local, anesthetics are powerful substances requiring a high standard of precision and monitoring. An anesthesiologist who fails to live up to the accepted standard of care for the profession places patients’ well-being and even their lives, at risk. Given the wrong dosage or inadequately monitored while under anesthesia, a person may suffer long-term medical consequences including brain damage or even death, or could wake up during a painful and invasive procedure.
Dentists: From improperly administered anesthesia to unsanitary equipment, misdiagnoses to inappropriate treatments, a dentist can make many of the same mistakes as the professionals you entrust with other aspects of your health. When a dentist breaches the duty of care, not only can the patient endure a lot of unnecessary suffering, but in serious cases, a previously localized infection could spread to the brain, necessitating emergency surgery and potentially long-term consequences that could have been avoided.
Multiple Liable Parties in a Single Case
The list above is by no means intended to be an exhaustive list of everyone who may be held liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In some cases, there may even be multiple accountable parties – for example, a surgeon and anesthesiologist whose collective negligence caused injury to the patient, as well as the hospital or medical practice that allowed them to operate under unsafe circumstances.
A highly experienced Long Island medical malpractice attorney can look at the specifics of your situation and determine whether you may have a viable case. At the Law Office Cohen & Jaffe LLP, we believe in direct communication, and will offer you an honest and frank assessment of your potential medical malpractice claim.
Our legal team works with distinguished medical experts to review cases, select the viable ones and meticulously prepare lawsuits. When we move forward on a case, we do so with full confidence that the claim is just, our client is deserving of compensation and we can demonstrate these facts.
For a free claim evaluation and consultation, call us now or fill out our online contact form. We will respond promptly. We can arrange evening and weekend appointments, and we can come to you.
- American Journal of Nursing: Nurses, Negligence, and Malpractice