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TV series begs the question: When can you sue a hospital?

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2021 | Medical Malpractice |

If you are a podcast listener, you may have already heard of the Texas-based neurosurgeon responsible for injuring 33 out of his 38 surgery patients due to gross malpractice. A new television series is coming out based on how the doctor injured those patients and continued to work at a regional medical center in Texas even after being reported multiple times.

The doctor ultimately was sentenced to life imprisonment. In addition, former patients reached settlements that covered medical expenses and lost income resulting from the doctor’s negligence. In some cases, lifetime medical expenses were covered.

If the hospital had reported him to the National Practitioner Medical Data Bank, his behavior could have been stopped. Instead, multiple lawsuits were filed against the hospital, alleging negligence for allowing the doctor’s tortious conduct to continue after the hospital was made aware of it. 

Can malpractice victims sue a hospital?

Although it may seem daunting, you can sue a hospital. You will need to prove at least one of the following: 

  1. Medical negligence. Medical negligence occurs when a patient is injured because of the negligence of an employee of the hospital
  2. Medical malpractice. This occurs when a patient is harmed by an employee of a hospital whose actions fell below the medical standard of care. The medical standard of care is typically defined as “the level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled health care professional, with a similar background and in the same medical community, would have provided under the circumstances that led to the alleged malpractices.”
  3. Wrongful death. A hospital may be liable for the negligence of employees who work in the hospital. Additionally, they may be liable for their hiring and/or managing practices. 

Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations

It is crucially important that a plaintiff takes legal action within Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations.

A “statute of limitations” means that there is a specific length of time a plaintiff has in which to initiate legal action against a medical practitioner or, in this case, a hospital. According to Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations, a plaintiff has two years to initiate legal action from the time that malpractice has been committed. Pennsylvania allows an exception called the “discovery rule,” which suspends the plaintiff’s length of time to file a lawsuit. Under the discovery rule, time begins running once the patient discovers that harm has been done or reasonably should have found it. 

What to do if you believe you have a case

These cases are complex and are often settled out of court or won based on an understanding of the law. For these reasons, anyone who believes they have a case against a hospital should contact a legal expert as soon as they become aware of potential malpractice.