Now that you have written your client’s medical malpractice complaint, and given it serious thought, it may seem that all the doctors, as well as some of the hospital employees, were responsible for your injuries.  You do not want to let a guilty party escape, so why not sue all of them?  It does not work that way.  It is rare for more than one or two doctors at most to be responsible for what happened.  Secondly, a “shotgun” approach can be expensive and risky when it comes to a medical malpractice claim.  It can cause you to lose your meritorious case against the responsible party.  Each doctor is responsible for his own acts, and he may be responsible for the acts of others in the following situations:


An employer is responsible for the acts of his employees, while they are acting in the capacity of their employment.  The hospital is responsible if a nurse lets a patient fall off a table; however, the hospital may not be responsible if the cafeteria waitress, who was not authorized to touch patients, lets the patient fall in the hospital cafeteria.  That is because she was acting outside the scope of her employment.

The Borrowed Servant

When employees of one person work for someone else, who supervises them or tells them what to do, the person in control, and not the employer, is responsible for their actions.  It commonly arises in the operating room, where a hospital employee assisting a surgeon may commit medical malpractice.  If the employee was working under the doctor’s supervision and orders, then the hospital is not liable for the actions of the borrowed servant, but the doctor is.  This also comes up in cases where a nurse, technician, or some other hospital employee is working under a doctor’s orders, and a patient is injured.

A Minnesota woman was admitted to the hospital ICU with a heart attack.   One of the nurses had trouble reading the doctor’s handwritten orders for medication.  Instead of checking with the doctor, she gave what she thought the doctor ordered, which proved to be wrong and killed the patient.  When the family sued the hospital, the court ruled that the nurse was acting directly under the doctor’s written orders.  Since they were carelessly written and confusing, the doctor was liable.  The hospital was not involved and was cleared.

The Captain of the Ship

If the doctor was in charge of other people, who were not his employees and did things wrong, you may be able to hold the doctor responsible, even if he was not personally present, just as the captain of a ship is ultimately responsible for everything that happens aboard his ship.  For example, a surgeon is in absolute control in the operating room.  He must be obeyed instantly, and without question, by everyone else in the room.  He is ultimately responsible for everything that happens.  If an orderly hooks up the electric cautery wrong, and it burns the patient, the surgeon may be responsible, even though he may not have seen the orderly do it.

It can be difficult to determine who exactly was at fault in your client’s medical malpractice case.  Contact JD.MD, Inc., today at 800-225-5363 for an initial case evaluation or a medical expert’s opinion.