In some cases, both the hospital and the doctor are held as liable for the injury of a patient. Recently, a NSW case was settled in just this way: both the practitioner and the hospital were found to be guilty of medical negligence.
The nurses, the hospital and the doctor were held liable
Mondaq reported that the Supreme Court of New South Wales recently ruled that the doctor, nurses and the hospital all played a part in the death of a patient.
The case involved a patient who died a gruesome death after a surgery in December 2008. The cause (it was later discovered) was due to some procedure suture material getting wrapped around the patient's bowels which later caused an infection. Eventually she developed pneumonia and then died of cardiac arrest.
The patient's daughters and husband took legal action against the doctor who pleaded guilty to the duty of care.
In addition, the doctor also filed a claim, arguing that the hospital contributed to the death of the patient, too. Thus, the case was called a "cross-claim."
The Court had to analyse the duty of care that the patient was owed by the hospital and whether or not this duty of care was fulfilled. It was discovered that had the hospital was indeed guilty of medical negligence. This is because, had the patient's deterioration been properly investigated and had the nurses delivered post-operative nursing care, the patient would have lived.
The hospital thus also admitted to failing in its fulfilment of its duty of care. However, the hospital maintained that the surgeon was primarily responsible for causing the death.
Doctor and hospital negligence
The Legal Services Commission of South Australia states that the hospital itself is responsible for medical negligence if the patient was injured or killed while being treated by a doctor hired by the hospital.
If the hospital takes a patient, they are agreeing to take reasonable care to provide for all of the medical needs of the patient. The hospital cannot avoid responsibility by claiming to have thought that the doctor was competent.
At Gerard Malouf and Partners, we provide expert advice on determining who could be liable for the injury you've suffered. We have a team of medical practitioners who will analyse your case and help determine whether reasonable care was provided.