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Medical malpractice: When is a hospital negligent?

Being a patient at a hospital is often a nerve-wracking experience for patients and their families. In addition to concerns over their condition, some people have very real concerns about medical malpractice as a result of hospital negligence. Hospitals in Massachusetts and across the country are tasked with ensuring the well-being of their patients; failure to do so could result in serious harm.

Negligence can appear in a variety of different ways, many related to hospital personnel. For example, hospitals must ensure that a potential employee -- including a nurse, doctor or other medical care professional -- is properly vetted. They are expected to take reasonable actions to ensure that an employee has proper credentials and education. Hospitals must also ensure that there are sufficient employees working at any given time. For example, if a patient is harmed because there are not enough registered nurses working, the hospital could be held liable.

Hospitals could also be considered negligent if medical staff fails to follow the instructions left by a patient's physician. On the other hand, if instructions left by a doctor clearly are not appropriate for the situation, other hospital personnel have a responsibility to question them. There are many other ways in which a hospital's actions could be considered negligent, including failing to keep accurate medical records and failing to protect patients from harm.

As many victims in Massachusetts are aware, medical malpractice can cause serious harm, sometimes even death. Failure to properly address such negligence could mean that future patients will suffer similarly in the future. By filing a lawsuit in a civil court, victims can help ensure they are properly compensated for their suffering as well as potentially initiate change that will provide protection to other patients.

Source: FindLaw, "Responsible Parties in Birth Injury Cases: Who Can Be Sued?", Accessed on Jan. 5, 2016

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