In a New York medical malpractice action, any healthcare provider can be liable for causing injuries to a victim. This includes a doctor, nurse, physician assistant, anesthesiologist, or other healthcare provider. Further, this includes the entities which the healthcare providers work for which might be a hospital, physician group, medical office, or related entity. The entity would be vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of their employees under the respondeat superior theory of law. Holding the entity liable for the victim’s injuries ensures that the company receiving the benefit of its employee’s services—and the victim’s money—also is liable for the burdens of their negligent employee’s acts.
But in many medical malpractice actions the negligent healthcare provider may not be an agent of the entity. This is commonly found at hospitals, where the negligent physician committing medical malpractice only has privileges to work at the hospital but is not an attending doctor. This essentially means that the physician can use the hospital’s facilities to render services or procedures, but is not on the hospital’s payroll. Think of it as permission to work at a place, but not required to.
Generally, a hospital is not liable for the negligence of a physician who has privileges at the hospital. However, a hospital CAN be liable for the negligent of a physician who has privileges at the hospital if the hospital negligently screened, hired, issued privileges, or allowed a physician who it knew was not competent to practice medicine to use the hospital’s facilities.
This gives rise to a negligent hiring case, wherein the defendant hospital could be liable for negligently hiring or granting privileges to a dangerous physician if the hospital knew or should have known of the physician’s dangerous propensities. This allows a separate cause of action to be asserted against the hospital or healthcare entity to allow the victim to recover compensation for his or her injuries against the entity.
The purpose of this is again, as noted above, to allow a victim to recover against the entity which derives a benefit from the physician but not a burden. This is not in a vicarious liability way, as there is technically a separate cause of action asserted against the hospital, but it still creates an avenue of liability.
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