When Can Hospitals be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on September 14, 2022 and updated on May 15, 2023.

hospital bed in roomMany medical malpractice claims are focused on doctors who caused an injury through their own negligence.

However, there may be other parties that bear liability for the victim’s damages, including the doctor’s employer and/or the medical facility where the victim suffered an injury.

These other parties may be held vicariously liable for the doctor or other medical professional’s actions, depending on the relationship between the medical professional and the medical facility. Vicarious liability is a complex legal concept, which is why victims of medical malpractice should seek help from a licensed attorney.

The Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl have secured millions for medical malpractice victims. We are ready to help you, as we know how devastating medical malpractice injuries can be. There are no upfront fees with our services, so there is no financial risk in working with us.

Examples of Hospital Mistakes

There are various examples of negligence that hospitals could potentially be held liable for, including:

  • Using faulty or defective equipment
  • Failing to maintain medical equipment
  • Failing to ensure a sterile environment

Is the Doctor an Employee or Independent Contractor?

Hospitals and other medical facilities would rather avoid being held liable for the actions of their doctors. That is why many Maryland hospitals have chosen to hire doctors as independent contractors rather than employees.

However, hospitals may say a doctor is an independent contractor when that may not be true. An experienced attorney can analyze the relationship between the doctor and the hospital to determine if there is an employer-employee relationship.

If the relationship fits these criteria, the doctor may be an employee, despite what the hospital says:

  • Doctor fees are set by the hospital
  • The hospital has significant control over payments to the doctor
  • The doctor’s schedule is set by the hospital
  • The hospital has significant control of the doctor’s duties, conduct, decisions and job conditions

Your lawyer may determine that the doctor who treated you is an employee, which means your lawyer may be able to hold the hospital liable for your damages.

Even if the doctor is an independent contractor, you may not have known that when you received treatment. Typically, Maryland courts have held that hospitals can be held liable for the actions of an independent contractor unless they made it clear to the patient that the doctor was not an employee.

Why Hospitals May be Liable for Your Injuries

Hospitals owe patients various duties of care and if they breach a duty of care, they could be held liable for damages that may result.

For example, hospitals owe patients a duty to hire qualified medical professionals. They need to conduct appropriate background checks and make sure doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have the appropriate licenses and credentials that are up to date. They need to do a reasonable investigation of doctors to determine their reputation in the medical community. Failing to do these things could be considered negligent hiring.

Other examples of hospital negligence may include:


If the hospital did not have enough staff members to provide appropriate care and supervision, the hospital could be liable for damages that result. Your lawyer may be able to argue your injuries could have been avoided or would have been less severe if there were enough staff members present.

Failing to Fire Staff Members

Sometimes hospitals were negligent because they failed to fire health care providers who were incompetent and/or had numerous complaints. Hospitals need to be aware of incompetent staff members because they have a duty to protect and provide appropriate care for patients.

Failing to Take Reasonable Steps to Keep Patients Safe

There are various steps hospitals should take to help keep patients safe. For example, they need to make sure equipment is maintained and functioning properly. Hospitals need to have procedures for ensuring a sterile environment and ensure those procedures are followed. There must also be procedures for administering medications properly and preventing patients from falling.

Hospitals may try to delegate duties to people to shield themselves from liability. However, Maryland hospitals that are accredited cannot delegate certain duties to independent contractors. Hospitals are not allowed to delegate custody, care or supervision of patients.

Contact Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices Today

We are ready to take your call and discuss how our firm may be able to help you. We take cases on contingency, which means there are no upfront fees. We do not get paid unless we recover compensation for your damages.

Medical malpractice cases are complex and take a lot of time to resolve. The damages victims suffer could affect them for a long time, even the rest of their lives. Experienced legal assistance is vital to your pursuit of compensation.

Licensed. Local. Lawyers. Call today: 410-401-9979.