When you are treated at a hospital or urgent care facility, you may believe that you are being cared for by an employee of that facility. However, this may often not be the case. When filing a medical malpractice lawsuit for your injuries, it’s important to know exactly who all the negligent parties might be. Although it may seem like the doctor is responsible, there are also unseen entities that may have made serious errors that ultimately resulted in your injuries. At David Aylor Law Offices, we represent seriously injured people and those who have lost loved ones due to medical negligence. If you’ve lost someone close to you or been personally injured by a careless or negligent hospital or medical provider, call today to schedule a free consultation.
What Is Medical Malpractice in South Carolina?
In general, medical malpractice is a type of negligence that is committed by someone who has specialized medical knowledge and skills. An easy way to think of negligence is that it happens when someone fails to behave in the way we would expect a reasonable and ordinarily careful person to act under the same circumstances. But when the defendant is a health care provider, the law elevates the standard of care. The question then essentially becomes, “What would similarly situated healthcare professionals do under the same circumstances, based on the same level of education, skill, and ability?” This can be a much tougher thing to answer. To better understand this, you can check out an example of jury instructions for medical malpractice cases.
How Can I Know if My Doctor Works for the Hospital?
In today’s complex medical environment, it can be practically impossible to differentiate between hospitalists, private physicians, on-call doctors, house physicians, residents, staff physicians, and so forth. All these terms have special meanings for hospitals and doctors, but for the general public, they mean little. And frankly, you should not have to think about it or worry about it when seeking medical attention. Just know that many physicians are private, independent doctors who own their own practices, but they may be given “privileges” to see patients at a hospital or surgical center.
This means they’re allowed to use the facility to see patients. It’s sort of like an independent hair salon, where each barber or stylist rents a booth but is not employed by the salon. Though this is a bit of an oversimplification.
Other physicians are actually full-time employees of the hospital. They work shifts on a rotation in order to make sure there is always someone with their specialty on call.
Does it Matter if My Doctor is an Employee or Not?
Yes. If you suffer at the hands of a negligent physician or another healthcare professional at a hospital, the hospital is liable for the negligence of its employees and agents. Therefore, if the doctor is an employee, then the hospital is almost certainly also liable. If not, then the question often hinges on whether you knew or had reason to know the doctor was not an employee. Also, did you have a choice about who treated you? To what extent did the hospital advise you of alternatives? These questions and more can determine the outcome of a medical malpractice case against a hospital.