When patients are harmed because of nursing malpractice, they can typically recover by filing a claim or lawsuit, but it’s the hospital that will be held liable for damages rather than the nurse. This is because of a legal doctrine referred to as respondeat superior or vicarious liability, which we’ll discuss in a little more detail below.
Vicarious Liability in Malpractice Cases
Pennsylvania subscribes to the respondeat superior doctrine that essentially provides that employers can be held vicariously liable for their employees’ negligent actions when the employees are acting within the scope of their employment.
This doctrine makes good sense. All employers have a duty only to employ staff that are adequately educated and trained.
- Doctor’s offices
It’s the employer’s duty to review carefully potential job candidates’ educational, work, and criminal histories, and to ensure that they fully understand and can handle the job. If a hospital employ unqualified nurses, they are necessarily putting their patients at risk.
Vicarious liability only applies to nurses that are employees, of course. If the nurse is a contractor or self-employed, she might be held personally liable for any negligent acts that cause patients harm. With independent nursing malpractice claims, it’s the nurse’s liability insurance that will be liable for the patients’ damages.
Determining If You Have a Valid Nursing Malpractice Case
It’s important to note that not all mistakes made by a nurse constitute malpractice. If a nurse was following orders and executed his job well, he/the hospital might not necessarily be liable for harms you sustained. In order to have a valid claim, you’ll have to be able to show that the nurse made an unreasonable mistake (negligence) that other nurses in his position would not have made, i.e., he mistake must have fallen short of the general standard of care that nurses are expected to provide.
For example, if a nurse correctly administered your medication and you happened to experience massive side effects, it’s probably not a case of malpractice. But, if the nurse applied too much medication because he failed to read your chart, or if he was distracted by his phone and knocked heavy equipment on you, you’ll likely have grounds to file a claim.
To determine if you have a viable nursing malpractice case, contact a medical malpractice lawyer at Cordisco & Saile LLC in Pennsylvania. You can have your circumstances reviewed, determine which party can be held liable, and then help you pursue any compensation you’re entitled. Call the office today at 215-642-2335 and schedule a free consultation.