Medical Malpractice – Healthcare Centres in the Ambit

It took multiple tests and consultations, before Jim Jarrell decided that he would undergo the surgery as advised by Dr. Kaul.  Jim assured his wife that everything would be okay, but deep down, even he was a bit scared – after all a spinal fusion surgery was not something that everyone went through.  But, post surgery, Jim and his wife’s worst fears came true.  The surgery went wrong and Jim sued Dr. Kaul for medical malpractice.  However, the case took a different turn in court.

The laws of New Jersey, requires all physicians to have malpractice insurance coverage of at least $1 million per coverage.  During the course of the trial, it was found that although Dr. Kaul did have malpractice insurance, his policy specifically excluded spinal surgery.  The court ruled that although Jim did not have a case against Dr. Kaul for failing to meet the malpractice insurance cover, the claim for underlying malpractice would stand.  However, the court held that Jim had a ‘negligent hiring’ case against the hospital.  The court stated that the hospital was liable for giving credentials to a doctor who did not comply with the statutory malpractice insurance requirement.

On September 29, 2015, the jury awarded damages of $750,000 to Jim for his botched up surgery.  This ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court now makes a health facility liable for medical negligence of any medical staff member; provided that the concerned staff member either does not have the statutory malpractice insurance or the insurance does not cover the treatment that was advised or performed.

This ruling has now put the onus of providing physicians with the proper malpractice insurance coverage on the health facility.  The health facility has to be sure that they provide credentials only to those medical staff members who carry appropriate malpractice insurance coverage – failing which, the facility will find itself liable to fund the shortfall, in case any of their medical staff is sued for malpractice and is unable to cover the amount awarded by the court.

The principal objectives of the U S medical malpractice system are to deter healthcare providers from negligent practice and to compensate the patient in case of injury through such negligence by the medical staff.  By making the medical facility also liable to pay up in case of a shortfall, the court has ensured that these medical facilities are now more circumspect in providing credentials to their staff.


References:

  1. Kessler, D. P. (2011, October 17). Evaluating the Medical Malpractice System and Options for Reform. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from U.S. National Library of Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195420/
  2. Medical Professional Liability Insurance . (2015). Retrieved October 11, 2015, from American College of Emergency Physicians: http://www.acep.org/workarea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=8948
  3. Michelle M. Mello, J. P., David M. Studdert, L. S., & Allen Kachalia, M. J. (2014, November 26). The Medical Liability Climate and Prospects for Reform. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from The Journal of The American Medical Association: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1921690
  4. Morton, H. (2014, January 13). MEDICAL LIABILITY | MEDICAL MALPRACTICE 2013 LEGISLATION. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from National Conference of State Legislatures: http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-medical-malpractice-2013-legislation.aspx
  5. Norman Tabler, J. |. (2015, October 10). Health Facilities May Be Insuring Doctors Without Knowing It. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from J D Supra Business Advisor: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/health-facilities-may-be-insuring-47889/
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