When is a Hospital Responsible for Wrongful Death?

Whenever we take a loved one to the hospital, it is with the hope that they would return feeling better and alive. If for any reason, something goes wrong and we lose the loved one, we begin to ask questions.

One of the many questions we may ask is, “could the hospital be responsible for the death?”

This question leads us to make many discoveries that we may not be prepared for.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wikipedia defines wrongful death as “a claim against a person who can be held liable for a death.” Alongside a person, an institution—such as a hospital—can also be sued for wrongful death if there is enough proof of malpractice.

When Is a Hospital Responsible for a Wrongful Death?

Physicians and nurses are majorly responsible for treatments and administration of medication to any sick person at a hospital. If the person dies wrongfully, it may be the fault of the physician and not the entire hospital. This thin line is what should guide you when asking yourself if it would be tactical to sue the hospital for Wrongful Death.

Below are some of the reasons a hospital could be responsible for a patient’s death:

  1. Inadequate staffing of trained physicians and nurses at the time of death.
  2. Employment of untrained/undertrained physicians, nurses and other essential staff.
  3. Lack of proper safety protocols and equipment to handle cases including the one being handled at the time of death.

In some cases, it is more beneficial to sue the doctor rather than the hospital. If after critical observation, there is enough proof that the doctor is responsible for the error leading to death, your attorney would most likely suggest that the doctor be sued independently.

The medical malpractice in view may be:

  1. Wrong diagnosis of ailment/condition.
  2. Administration of wrong medications or error in dosage administered.
  3. Neglect of the patient at any point during treatment.
  4. Mistake made during surgery.

If any of the reasons mentioned above were responsible for the death, then you may as well confer with your attorney on how to go about filing a case.

Moreover, suing the hospital requires more expenses as you would have to battle with two attorneys: the attorney to the doctor and the one to the hospital. Additionally, your attorney may advice suing the doctor alone if the doctor’s medical insurance can cover for the damages incurred.

Overall, the best step to take is to speak with an attorney to assist you in making the right decision.

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