NYC Hospital Negligence Law Firm
Although many hospital patients benefit from successful surgeries, others return home battling serious pain caused by negligent care. Busy doctors and nurses often make critical errors requiring new surgeries to correct their mistakes. Some patients simply die of errors witnessed by a few employees who are too afraid of losing their jobs to speak up about what they’ve seen.
Since a comprehensive list of negligent hospital errors and omissions would be too unwieldly for any article, a sample list has been set forth below. In some cases, hospitals can be held liable for the negligence of doctors who practice in them — if those doctors were actual hospital employees and not independent contractors.
However, since there are many gray areas governing a hospital’s liability for a doctor’s medical malpractice, you’ll need to speak with a New York City hospital negligence attorney to find out if the facts of your case will support a claim against both the hospital and your doctor.
Key factors are noted below that are often used to determine when a hospital can be successfully sued for its employees’ negligence. As you lawyer will tell you, in some cases, it may be to your advantage to file both a state medical malpractice case and a federal EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act) lawsuit. The latter claim doesn’t require a patient to prove negligence in order to recover damages.
What are the most basic hospital duties owed to patients?
- Proper Care. This must be provided as soon as possible to new patients entering the hospital. So, whether a person goes directly to an emergency room or is admitted for a scheduled surgery or treatment, the hospital must begin immediately providing the prevailing standard of care for that community;
- Arrival at a proper diagnosis. Each patient is entitled to have all medical conditions properly evaluated and diagnosed in a timely manner. This must be done without any consideration for the person’s ability to pay for the required medical services;
- Administration of all proper medications and treatments. In general, drugs should not be given until the hospital staff has obtained a thorough medical history from each patient. However, if a seriously injured person arrives unconscious or without family to describe their medical conditions, basic tests must be run to avoid prescribing harmful medications. When there’s a workplace injury, a co-worker or supervisor should always accompany the injured worker to the emergency room to describe what happened;
- Timely determination if females of childbearing age might be pregnant. If a woman doesn’t know for sure, certain test musts be run to avoid injuring a fetus;
- Responsible handling of all required surgeries and procedures. All doctors and assisting nurses and technicians must properly carry out their tasks. And all lab work (both before and after surgery) must be completed in a timely and professional manner. After surgeries and biopsies are performed to detect the presence of cancer, patients’ doctors must provide them with timely results. During surgeries, nurses must keep an accurate sponge count and keep track of all instruments used so that patients are never sewn up with any foreign objects left in their bodies. Likewise, surgeons must never operate on the wrong side of a patient’s body – or on the wrong limb;
- Timely transfers or referrals to more specialized medical facilities. Should a patient arrive with a serious burn injury or another complex medical condition that a specific hospital doesn’t normally treat – that patient must be stabilized and then immediately referred to the closest burn center (or other specialized treating hospital) as soon as possible (unless doing so would pose an immediate threat to the patient’s life).
When suing a hospital doctor for malpractice, what must a patient prove?
- That a formal doctor-patient relationship existed. This simply means that the patient formally hired the doctor for surgery or treatment and the doctor agreed to provide the requested care. This is often officially established by patients when they sign agreements prior to letting their physicians provide medical treatments or surgeries on their behalf. No doctor or other healthcare professional should ever be allowed to handle any significant medical procedure that isn’t covered by either an admission form or an independent contract;
- Your physician handled his/her duties in a negligent manner. Keep in mind that when a patient is simply unhappy with the results of surgery, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the doctor is liable for medical malpractice. Doctors only owe patients treatment that’s reasonably skillful. In most cases, it takes a medical expert hired by a patient’s lawyer to formally establish the appropriate standard of care for the provided surgery or treatment. Patients’ medical records and treatment results are used to prove that a doctor clearly deviated from the required standard of care and seriously harmed the patient;
- The doctor directly caused the injury or extremely poor surgical result. If several doctors and nurses handled different aspects of your surgery or treatment, you must be able to prove which ones directly provided substandard care. You cannot just ask the court to presume your surgeon was at fault for all that you suffered if other professionals, including surgical nurses, helped with your surgery or treatment. Each person’s individual role in your harm must be clearly proved;
- The injury you sustained directly caused specific harm or damages. This can sometimes be shown by documenting all corrective surgeries you had to undergo (such as a second operation to remove a surgical sponge left inside your abdomen). In other cases, you may have been forced to undergo specialized treatments to help you overcome a serious reaction to an improper drug administered to you during surgery.
What are other general ways that hospital employees can harm patients?
- Mixing up the drugs of patients sharing a room. It’s always best for patients to ask what type of drug is being given to them – especially if they don’t recognize the drug;
- Accidentally dropping a patient to the floor. A nurse or other hospital tech may not get a proper grip on a patient’s arm while helping the person transfer from a bed to a gurney;
- Failing to keep a patient’s room clean and free of all possible germs. Approximately one patient out of 25 develops an infection in a hospital that was fully preventable. One of the deadliest germs present in hospital (and other medical) environments is Clostridium difficile or “C-diff.” This germ often causes severe diarrhea and can lead to death;
- Psychological harm or inadequate care based on the patient’s condition. About 20 percent of older Americans develop delirium while obtaining hospital care. Many seniors find it very confusing to be moved in and out of their assisted living or nursing homes into new hospitals and other facilities. One out of six of these patients will die of delirium;
- Failure to provide frail patients with adequate mobility devices. Many patients must be given walkers, canes or wheelchairs to help them move about safely;
- Feeding patients foods that can easily worsen their conditions. Patients’ families should make sure that the hospital doctors and dieticians know that a patient has diabetes or high blood pressure, especially when the food being served appears to have a high salt or high sugar content;
- Improper use of patient restraints. While some patients in ICU units may require restraints to keep them safe when they’re unable to think clearly or move about on their own, patients elsewhere in hospitals can suffer serious injuries directly due to the wrong types of restraints being used.
Unfortunately, on any given day, about 1,000 American patients die due to preventable hospital mistakes or errors.
If you believe that you (or a loved one) suffered serious harm due to a hospital’s negligence – or the medical malpractice of a doctor or surgeon — be sure to contact our New York City medical malpractice law firm right away. We can provide you with the timely legal advice that you’ll need to protect your rights. Once we accept your case, we’ll fight hard to win the maximum compensation available to cover all your lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses and other losses.