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Appeals court rules that doctors were not employed by hospital

Hospitals here in New York and elsewhere employ many physicians, but some physicians are merely allowed to use the facilities at the hospital. These doctors are often not employed by the hospital. Therefore, in any medical malpractice claim that arises from the actions of a doctor who only has privileges at the hospital where an alleged error was made, the hospital might not bear any liability in the incident.

Recently, an appeals court in another state ruled that a hospital was not liable for the death of a patient who underwent a surgical procedure there. The woman was having a cancerous tumor removed in 2009. During the operation, a large vein was torn, and doctors were unable to save her life due to excessive bleeding.

Her estate filed a medical malpractice claim against the doctors, the hospital and the Florida university that employed the doctors. The hospital argued that it should not be part of the lawsuit because the doctors were not its employees. In fact, the woman had signed documentation acknowledging that the hospital bore no responsibility for the doctors and that they were not the hospital's employees. The trial court and the appeals court both agreed that Tampa General Hospital should not be part of the lawsuit.

The hospital was granted summary judgment and was dismissed from the lawsuit primarily because it carefully outlined its role with regard to the use of its facilities by non-employee doctors. This documentation made it easier for the courts to make their rulings. New York hospitals that extend privileges to doctors who are not employed by them often take similar steps to ensure that they do not become embroiled in medical malpractice suits. If they are drawn into such litigation, the documents signed by the patient can be offered into evidence as proof that they are not liable for doctors that they do not employ.

Source: health.wusf.usf.edu, "Court Sides With Tampa General In Malpractice Case", Aug 25, 2016

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