Many hospitals throughout New York engage staffing companies to provide physicians to offer medical services to their patients. In other words, many of the doctors who work at such hospitals are considered independent contractors rather than employees. While hospitals may be deemed vicariously liable for the negligent acts of their employees, they generally will not be held responsible for the incompetence of independent contractors that work for them. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, as discussed in a recent New York opinion set forth in a hospital malpractice case. If you sustained injuries due to a careless physician working in a hospital, it is in your best interest to confer with a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer to determine what claims you may be able to pursue.
The Plaintiff’s Harm
Allegedly, the plaintiff visited the defendant hospital with complaints of pain in his lower hip and back. He was seen by a nurse practitioner, who ordered a urine culture, a urine dipstick, and an abdominal x-ray. He was discharged with a diagnosis of acute cystitis and prescribed an antibiotic. Four days later, when the results of his urine culture were negative, he was advised to discontinue the medication. The defendant doctor, who was an independent contractor retained by the defendant staffing company, signed off on the documentation regarding the plaintiff’s care.
It is reported that three days later, the plaintiff began experiencing changes in his mental status. He was subsequently diagnosed with bacterial meningitis at another hospital and remained hospitalized until mid-April. He subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging, in part, that the defendant hospital was vicariously liable for the harm caused by the defendant doctor and the defendant staffing company. The plaintiff then moved for summary judgment. Continue reading